Key Point: "Opposition to establishing New Hampshire’s minimum wage at $8.25 appeared minimal outside the Statehouse yesterday...a recent University of New Hampshire poll showed 76 percent of respondents favoring the move. The bill has a diverse coalition of backers including churches, unions and advocates for women, children and poor people.
"People interviewed yesterday in Derry unanimously supported the move."
Eagle Tribune: People are showing support for N.H. minimum wage increase
February 12, 20013
By John Toole
Opposition to establishing New Hampshire’s minimum wage at $8.25 appeared minimal outside the Statehouse yesterday.
New Hampshire now follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the lowest in New England.
House lawmakers convened a hearing on House Bill 1403 that calls for establishing the minimum wage at $8.25 next year and $9 in 2016.
If the Legislature approves the measure, which Gov. Maggie Hassan supports, New Hampshire only would lag Vermont at $9.10 an hour. Massachusetts and Maine would remain at $8 an hour and $7.50 an hour, respectively.
The Business and Industry Association has lumped the proposed minimum wage with other bills the group said would “move New Hampshire backward, resulting in the Granite State becoming a a less welcoming place for businesses to start up, grow or locate.”
But a recent University of New Hampshire poll showed 76 percent of respondents favoring the move. The bill has a diverse coalition of backers including churches, unions and advocates for women, children and poor people.
People interviewed yesterday in Derry unanimously supported the move.
“I think $8.25 an hour is still kind of low the way the cost of living is and the economy,” Peter Grasso of Derry said.
Grasso remembered working a $4-an-hour minimum wage job with Kentucky Fried Chicken years ago, before he got a 10-cent raise after eight months.
Douglas Blair of Londonderry said he supports the proposed increase.
“It would get people out, accepting the low-end jobs,” Blair said.
Where the minimum wage is now kids won’t take jobs because they think they are worth more, he said.
“That would be a great thing,” said Ginny Parsons of Derry about the potential increase. “Everyone wants more money. It would be nice for them to raise it for once.”
Robert Maxwell of Londonderry said he supports the increase.
“Ask people who work a 40-hour-a-week job at McDonald’s or in food services, and see how they are living,” Maxwell said.
Randi Murphy of Derry agreed with Maxwell.
“Seven dollars and 25 cents is kind of hard to live off,” Murphy said.
Peter Crowley of Derry said he would definitely raise the minimum wage.
“People don’t make enough money to live on,” Crowley said.
Bill Jenkins of Concord said it’s a good idea.
“Given the economy and lack of money most people have,” Jenkins said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Eve Breault of Derry. “My only problem is the people who are already working. Is my pay going up, too? Are we going to get a comparable raise also?”
But she’s on board with the increase.
“It’s about time,” Breault said. “You can’t afford to live in New England on the minimum wage now.”
Despite the Business and Industry Association’s opposition, businesses contacted yesterday showed commerce interests are split on the issue.
“This wouldn’t affect me,” said Francis Moreau, owner of Ace Upholstery Inc. in Salem. “I can’t get anybody at minimum wage “I’m not opposed to raising it. I don’t see how people can survive on the minimum wage.”
He sees potential benefits for his business.
“Maybe they’d be able to have something upholstered,” he said of workers in line for the increase.
Jim Desjardins, owner of Daisy Cleaners in Salem, said it really doesn’t affect his staff.
“They are well beyond minimum wage,” Desjardins said.
He also wonders how people make ends meet working full time at minimum wage.
“Clearly, people can’t live off the minimum wage,” he said.
Desjardins predicts the expense would be passed along to consumers, if the minimum wage is hiked.
He doesn’t expect business will suffer for cleaners like himself, because customers paying to have clothes cleaned typically are earning above minimum wage.
Blake Ruggerio, owner of Romano’s Pizza in Salem, wasn’t hanging on the results of the political debate.
“This doesn’t really affect me, so I have no opinion on it,” Ruggerio said.
He said he didn’t see it affecting the business.
“Most of the employees are getting more than minimum wage,” he said.
The owner of Signs Now New Hampshire in Pelham, Chuck Raz, didn’t see a big affect on his business or workforce.
“We don’t have anybody at that,” Raz said of the minimum wage.
Raz would prefer the politicians leave the pay issue to the market.
“Let the market bear what it can bear,” Raz said. “I’m against it. This is New Hampshire, you know. Live free or die.”