Louisa businesses balk at minimum wage talk

Posted on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 9:00 am

Local business owners are wary about the proposed hike to the minimum wage.

Local business owners are wary about the proposed hike to the minimum wage.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 28, President Barack Obama said that 2014 “needs to be the year” that the minimum wage changes from the current $7.25 level to Obama’s proposed increase of $10.10.

But according to various business owners around Louisa, they’d be more than happy to wait.

“It’ll put more stress on the business,” said one Louisa restaurant owner who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I’m certain of that. Businesses would have to find other ways of saving the money or potentially losing an employee, whatever direction is has to be for them. That’s not the direction we want to go in.”

Kristy Bazzanella, vice president of Christopher Run Campground, agreed. Bazzanella said that though almost all newly hired employees at the campground start out at minimum wage, raises are given within the first few pay periods based on performance, a model she feels should be more utilized.

She added that an increase in minimum wage could have adverse affects not only on businesses, but employees as well, predicting a “crippling effect” on work ethic should the change occur.

“I think that if people are really doing what they ought to be doing, they’ll get increases accordingly,” Bazzanella said. “Most new employees already have that feeling of entitlement to higher wages. Why start somebody out on a big fee and then find out they can’t do the basics of a job?”

If the increase were to occur, it would be the first change in minimum wage laws since July 24, 2009. From 2007 to 2009, workers saw minimum wage change three times, rising from $5.15 to the current $7.25 as a way of combating an unstable economy.

According to a 2012 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.8 million workers paid hourly rates in Virginia, with 123,000 earning minimum wage, which translates to 6.8% of the current workforce. That percentage is likely higher in Louisa, where the median household income of $50,082 is lower than the state median of $59,330.

In February, members of the House Commerce and Labor Committee in Virginia voted to table two proposed bills that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to either $8.50 or $9.25 in the next two years.

For Dr. Jack Manzari, chair of the Louisa Chamber of Commerce, the hike to $10.10 seems too large. Though he stated that the LCC doesn’t have a formal opinion on the matter, he did say that the proposed increase is something that will have to be addressed in the upcoming months.

To read the entire story, see the March 27 edition of The Central Virginian.

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