CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) It was a packed house on the third floor of the state Legislature Tuesday, with advocates looking to make their case to lawmakers on why minimum wage should go up.
“Right now what we are trying to fight for is a $12 increase for the next two to three years, but I think we should have an $18 minimum wage,” said Phuong Tran, who went to make her case to the Legislature. “Minimum wage and housing is a human right. We can’t settle for what we have now. We expect more; we deserve more.”
Some companies have already raised their minimum wage, as Costco did recently, paying all employees at least $15 an hour, but what supporters are hoping for is a statewide increase, from $7.25 an hour for employees with health insurance and $8.25 for those without it.
The potential raise is a concern for everyone who owns a business and has to pay employees, such as Ian Madan of Southcreek Pizza.
“If we raise the minimum wage we are going to have to raise the prices our products,” says Madan, who is concerned it might also mean having fewer employees.
Madan’s concern is that his industry, like others, was never meant to be one that you earned a career-level wage in, but rather a starting point in the job world.
“The restaurant industry was always a stepping stone industry," Madan adds. "The wages just aren’t there. If we are going to be forced to raise wages, we are going to be forced to raise prices.”
If the wage does get raised, it will be an immediate raise, but rather an incremental one over time.
“It’s not $12 right off the bat," said JD Klippenstein, Executive Director of ACTIONN. “It proposes a 75-cent increase over five years, which we think is more than enough for the businesses to absorb.”
This is not the first time this has come up; a law that sought to raise it to $12 per hour by 2022 passed the Legislature in 2017 but was vetoed by then-Governor Brian Sandoval. Supporters hope it will have a better chance to pass this time around.