Tulsa Business Owners Weigh In On President's Plan To Raise Minimum Wage

Wednesday, February 13th 2013, 5:49 pm

By: News On 6

Tuesday night, during his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama laid out a vision to raise the national minimum wage to $9 an hour.

He said it's necessary, for people to live comfortably, to tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, but Tulsa entrepreneurs have varying opinions about the possible hike.

With hours left until Valentine's Day, Ted and Debbie's Flower and Garden shop was bustling with business Wednesday.

The store usually has between 15 and 22 workers.

"We like to hire high schoolers and college-age," said owner Debbie Wilson.

And for that reason, Wilson said a lot of her employees make minimum wage, which is currently $7.25.

During the State of the Union address, President Obama suggested raising the minimum to $9, saying, "Working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for minimum wage to go up, when CEO pay has never been higher."

2/12/2013 Related Story: Obama: 'Thriving Middle Class' Key To Finishing Economic Recovery

Wilson said she didn't agree with that idea.

"It's more than you kind of want to start off with someone, and then when they become better you don't mind that," Wilson said.

Wilson said she fears she'll have to start hiring the cream of the crop, and high schoolers and senior citizens will be left jobless.

"Normally, I say, 'Well you don't have to know, I can train you,' but I wouldn't want to train someone at that price," Wilson said.

While Wilson feels the limit is too high, other business owners think differently.

"I think that makes a lot of sense that, over a couple, three-year period, raise it from $7.25 to $9. I think that is the way it needs to happen," said Tim Dreiling, owner of Fleet Feet Sports.

He has 32 employees. Only three of them make less than $9 an hour.

"If you pay the minimum wage, you're more than likely to get turnover, so for us, it's worked better for us to invest more in our employees, not only for our business, but also, I just believe it's good for the employees," Dreiling said.

Dreiling said he agrees with the President that the minimum wage should be tied to the cost of living.

"The stronger middle class that we have, the more money that's in the economy. Then, those people become better consumers, so, in the end, hopefully it comes back to benefit us," Dreiling said.

The federal minimum wage has been the same since 2009.

It's already been raised in 19 states. The highest is Washington, at $9.19.


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