Asheville – Many businesses all over the area are seeking employees. Some fast-food restaurants are even offering up to $17 per hour. Nevertheless, several state lawmakers and groups held a press conference in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage for the state.
On Thursday, local NC Rep. Susan Fisher joined others in a video press conference to campaign for HB 612, which in part raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Fisher is a primary sponsor of the bill. NC State Senator Natalie Murdock was also in attendance. State workers, small business owners, clergy and community advocates with Raising Wages NC Coalition joined the press conference.
“Essential workers have been keeping people fed and keeping our state on track during COVID, but we’re not making enough to survive,” said Nashon Blount, a McDonald’s worker and member of NC Raise Up/Fight for $15. “Why is North Carolina allowing so many working families to live in poverty when these companies can afford to pay us $15 per hour? Workers have been demanding it for years and other states have shown it’s possible. Now it’s our turn.”
Fisher detailed how the $15 per hour amount was determined.
“It was early in the campaign when other states were passing the increases that we labeled the campaign $15 in 5 (15 in five years). I maintain that it should be more, but this would absolutely make a difference to so many,” Fisher said.
Increases for Waitstaff
When asked if the $15 minimum would apply to waitstaff, Fisher said,
“Over time, the tipped minimum wage would be raised as well. This is included in the bill.”
Many restaurant owners have struggled through COVID to pay employees. Yet, Fisher said that the raise would guarantee a stable, healthy workforce and thus a stable bottom line for business owners.
Under the bill, tips would be counted as part of the employees’ hourly income on a graduated pay scale starting with up to $6.50 beginning in January of 2022, $9.50 beginning in January of 2023, $12.50 in January of 2024 and $15 in January of 2025.