Chants for even higher minimum wage

22News spoke with local businesses and residents about the potential impact a higher minimum wage could have.

Photo Courtesy: MGNonline

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) –  Labor groups across the country are calling for a higher minimum wage.

More and more states are raising the minimum wage, far beyond the federal standard of $7.25. While it helps workers with growing living costs, it also means smaller businesses are paying more.

Hundreds protested around the McDonald’s headquarters this week calling for $15 an hour and a union.

Caroline Robidoux, of Springfield told 22News, “I think it’s a good idea because people work because they have to support their families and what not.”

But it’s a challenging idea for people who are spending thousands to get a higher education to become a skilled worker.  “Why am I going to go through school, when people are already making the money that I’m trying to go to school to make. So you know I hate to say it but in the end I don’t think it’s the greatest idea no,” Jillian Lyons, of Holyoke said.

Massachusetts minimum wage is set to reach $11 an hour by 2017, but many labor groups representing fast food chain and big box retailer workers say they would like to see $15 an hour.

Massachusetts’minimum wage hike  to $9 this year has already put a strain on some local businesses.

EJ Barkett, the owner of White Hut said “It’s hard for me to go up on a rate because right now my burger starts at $3.25. If I go up by that percentage, I’m going to go up to lets say $3.50 I might start losing customers because for many years I’ve been a reasonably priced restaurant.”

The cost for utilities, insurance, and wage continue to increase putting more of a burden on small business.

According to a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition  monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment can run about 1 thousand dollars a month in Massachusetts, which requires 87 hours of minimum wage work to afford.

Click here to for the report by the National Low Income Housing Coaltion.

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