U.S. Secretary of Labor hosts minimum wage roundtable in Charlot - | WBTV Charlotte

U.S. Secretary of Labor hosts minimum wage roundtable in Charlotte


One of the biggest complaints in the country right now: you can work full time and still be considered poor, if you only make minimum wage. President Obama says that's why he wants to raise the minimum employers can pay workers from $7.25 to $9.

Charlotte resident Taheerah Harris says, "for us, if we see like a minimum wage at seven dollars, and they move that to nine dollars, we're like…well, the government cares about us."

Taheerah was one of a handful of Charlotte residents invited to take part in a round table today with Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Seth Harris (no relation) at First Baptist Church. Obama is sending him to cities all over the country to garner support for the pay increase proposal. Taheerah is certainly in favor.

"We don't want to work so hard and feel like what am I working hard for?" she says. "What am I accomplishing? Those are the questions you ask when you work a full work week making just over seven bucks an hour."

That...and how will you support your family? Gloria Ervin says she worries about that every day.

"Nine dollars an hour won't solve all the problems," Ervin said at the round table. "But it will help a long ways."

Secretary Harris agrees. "It'll also help in low wage communities," he says. "What I've learned from traveling around the country and meeting with minimum wage workers as soon as that money comes in, they're going to turn right around and spend it the local grocery store, the local stationary store to buy school supplies for their kids..."

In other words, the money could get fed right back into the economy, helping communities to grow. But critics say not in the way you might think. They claim studies from various parts of the country show that the majority of minimum wage workers out there are college kids or secondary income earners - not the family breadwinners.

"Yeah, the problem with that argument is it's not true," Secretary Harris says. "Only one in five people who will be benefited by this increase are teenagers, more than half are supporting children..."

He says more than half are like Ervin, and that's why she has faith that the proposal will pass.

"I have faith in mankind and that in the end they will do what's right," Ervin says.

But some small business owners also wonder "what's right." They worry about how they'll come up with the money to pay workers more.

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