$15 Minimum Wage: Businesses Who Refuse To Pay Could Face Stiff Fines

The minimum wage in Connecticut is just $9.15 per hour, but a new bill would seek to fine any big companies that aren’t paying their workers a minimum of $15 per hour, according to a report from CBS New York.

The bill is being considered in Hartford, Connecticut, and it would fine businesses $1 per hour per employee, who doesn’t earn the $15 minimum.

Critics have called it a job-killing cash grab since there would still be little incentive for big companies to up their wages. The thinking is that a $1 per hour fine would essentially bring the employee’s wage to $10.15 per hour (for a minimum wage employee), thus continuing to save the company $4.85 per hour, per employee, with the worker seeing no direct benefit from the fine.

Critics also believe it would encourage companies looking to move in to Connecticut to look elsewhere. One of those critics is Republican State Rep. Gail Lavielle.

“The higher you raise these obligatory wages, the more difficult it is for companies to hire more people, which is exactly what they need to do,” Lavielle said. “People in Connecticut still need jobs.”

To date, Seattle is the first place to enact a $15 minimum wage. The $15 won’t take effect immediately but will be phased in over time. It started officially on April 1, so it’s still too early to tell what effects it’s having on businesses and consumers.

Restaurant owners, who are often able to get by with a lesser wage than the state minimum because waitstaff earns cash tips that often elevate their incomes well beyond the average, believe they will have to raise prices as a result, and that will subsequently hurt business.

The Inquisitr previously reported on the case of a bookstore owner, who confirmed he would be closing the doors of his popular independent bookstore because he couldn’t afford to pay the $15 minimum wage approved by San Francisco voters.

Alan Beatts said that since the city of San Francisco had voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018, he would have to go out of business. (It’s currently at $11.05 an hour.)

Beatts said he’s yet to close the bookstore in 2014, but 2013 was his most successful year to date, and he employs five, three of whom would benefit from the voter-approved increase. But because of the increase, he would be operating “in the red in another two years.”

When pressured to cite additional costs that might also have contributed to his decision by MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski, Beatts shut it down, pointing out that online booksellers had nothing to do with his decision and that “stores that were going to be crushed by online sales would have been crushed already.”

“No, this is a direct result of the minimum wage increase,” he said, pointing out that for 60 percent of his staff, he would see a 39 percent increase in costs as well as additional costs for raising the salaries of his other non-minimum wage employees.

“And unlike other businesses,” Beatts added, “I can’t adjust my prices to make up for it.”

Do you think a $15 minimum wage increase is a wise move or a jobkiller?

[Image via a katz / Shutterstock.com]