Town proposal to raise minimum wage to $15

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AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – On March 19th a special town meeting in Amherst will be held about raising the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the state minimum wage is $8.00 an hour, but in Amherst, it could be $15 an hour.

A petition gained enough support to spring a town meeting. Now, on March 19th, it’ll be up to the members to decide if they want to pursue changes in the law.

Julia Lotieng of Amherst told 22News, “The standard of poor families will at least be raised. And they would also be able to meet their daily expenses.”

However, what about businesses? Some say it would force employers to cut hours and jobs.

The proposal appears to have the support of at least some small businesses. Like Amherst Books. Co-Owner Mark Wooton said they believe in a living wage and would somehow manage the extra expense. “We would probably have to work the salaried people a bit more, but were pretty close to the $15 an hour rate as it is.”

Lower wage workers like Lily Wheeler told 22News she can see both pros and cons to $15 minimum wage. “If you increase the prices with minimum wage everything else will go up just like it always does, but I wouldn’t complain with $15 an hour.”

The proposal also calls for enforcing that wage with a $500 per day per employee fine on any business that doesn’t comply. Even if Amherst residents say yes, they still need to convince state lawmakers to draft and pass a bill.

President Obama was in Connecticut on Wednesday, advocating for raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour.

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