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Senator stumps in Oregon District for minimum wage hike

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown acknowledges it will be an uphill battle to pass a law boosting the federal minimum wage to more than $10 an hour, but the Ohio Democrat is traveling the state to push for the legislation that he co-sponsored.

“This would be food for workers, it would be good for families, it would be good for business, and it would be good for our economy,” Brown said Friday afternoon during a press conference at Blind Bob’s Tavern in Dayton’s Oregon District.

If passed, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25 – in three steps of 95 cents – then provide for automatic annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living. The bill would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which currently stands at $2.13 an hour, for the first time in more than 20 years, to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Opponents of the measure, including the National Restaurant Association, say the proposal would thwart job creation. Amy Haverstick — owner of Jay’s restaurant — said such a steep jump in the federal minimum wage would drive up menu prices and force some restaurants out of business.

Ohio Restaurant Association spokesman Jarrod Clabaugh said the legislation would threaten the restaurant industry’s proven ability to create jobs. “Considering the challenges that the Affordable Care Act alone is expected to place on small business owners in the next several years, now is definitely not the time to increase minimum wage,” Clabaugh said.

But Brown said those objections have been raised every other time the minimum wage has gone up, and the dire projections do not happen. More than 80 percent of employees making minimum wage are 18 or over, and many have to work two jobs to support their families, Brown said.

Bob Mendenhall, co-owner of Blind Bob’s, said he has watched minimum wage rise from $1.15 an hour to Ohio’s current $7.85 an hour, and he supports Brown’s proposal to push it higher.

“This is an important issue for the Dayton, Ohio; this is an important issue for the state, and this is an important issue for the people of America,” Mendenhall said.

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