, Salem, MA


February 5, 2014

'Lower and slower'

Business leaders take stand against minimum wage bill


“Ultimately, I voted in favor of the whole package,” said Lovely, who said she knew the bill would be amended by the House, tied to unemployment insurance reform to help lower costs for employers, and then come back to the Senate for a vote.

The North Shore Chamber of Commerce board voted 19 to 5 to oppose the increase in the Senate bill. The board then voted to support a more modest increase.

“When you take a look at other states and project them out, we will be the state with the highest minimum wage in the country,” said William Tinti, chairman of the North Shore Chamber.

Tinti said Connecticut, for example, will increase its minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015. New York is doing so in steps by 2016.

The North Shore Chamber also favored the creation of a lower wage rate for teens, the reduction or elimination of the premium for Sunday work in stores, and a modest increase in the tip wage.

Among those at the business gathering on Monday, Rob Liani, the owner of Coffee Time Bake Shop in Salem, said he would like to see an increase at the federal level, “so it levels the playing field and gives people a decent wage.”

A national minimum wage increase would allow businesses in Massachusetts to compete with border states, Liani said.

Getting a minimum wage hike past the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, however, could be a daunting goal.

Hurst said retailers also want to eliminate the requirement that store employees who work on Sundays be paid time-and-a-half. This was a concession built into the law when stores were allowed to open on Sundays in 1980. If the minimum wage were to go to $11, he said, a supermarket employee could be earning $16.50 to bag groceries on a Sunday.

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