Minimum Wage Increase
Hawaiʻi's working families bear the highest costs in our nation.
Multiple bills have been introduced in the 2017 legislative session targeted at increasing the state minimum wage here in Hawaiʻi.
According to economist James Galbraith, raising the minimum wage would raise the incomes of 28 million Americans. Women would particularly benefit because they tend to work for lower wages than men. As Galbraith sees it, raising the minimum wage is family friendly policy.
To get the economy back on track, spending power has to be in the hands of those who actually spend in the real economy. That means regular people, not the super-wealthy who tend to hoard wealth or invest in financial products. The minimum wage story is not just a story about income inequality, but rather it’s about an elite that has hijacked the economic system and made it work less productively than before while redistributing more of what is working to themselves.
During the early part of the post-war period, particularly the 1950s and 1960s, entrepreneurship was more concerned with building productive capacity and putting workers to work actually making useful things as opposed to creating financial Frankenstein products like credit default swaps.
A higher minimum wage would also help to mitigate the abusive, exploitative working practices of a number of employers, who take advantage of the currently low minimum wage to seek cut-rate help. Such employers often use undocumented labor, which further undermines America’s working poor.
The past 30 years have witnessed a dramatic redistribution of national and personal income in favor of profits for the rich. At the same time, this period has been associated with a dramatic decline in the performance of the U.S. economy. Raising the minimum wage is the minimum we can do for those who have suffered from this economic crisis: the working population. It would be an act of justice.
2017 BILLS We Support, currently scheduled
SB 107: Increases the minimum wage to $12.25 per hour in 2018 and $15 per hour in 2019. Repeals language allowing the hourly wage of a tipped employee to be increased on account of tips. Requires the department of labor and industrial relations to annually calculate the adjusted minimum wage rate to the nearest five cents using the Honolulu region CPI-W. Testify on this measure.
HB 5: Annually increases minimum wage 1/1/18 - 1/1/2021. On 9/30/2021 and thereafter requires DLIR to adjust the minimum hourly wage in accordance with the Honolulu region consumer price index. Deletes tip credit. Testify on this measure.
Send testimony on house bills to LABTestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov
Send testimony on senate bills to JDLTestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov
Sample Testimony on a Minimum Wage increase bill
Relating to House Bill 5
Testifying in Strong Support
Aloha, Chair Johanson, Vice-Chair Holt, and Members of the House Committee on Labor,
My name is _____________, I live in ____________ and I strongly support HB5 Relating to Labor, which annually increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021, eliminates the tip credit and automatically adjust future increases in accordance with the Honolulu region consumer price index.
(Include why you support this bill, or simply why you support an increase in the minimum wage. Personal stories are good. Stories either about yourself, or someone close to you. For example:)
Increasing the minimum wage to $15 will help individuals and families who are just scraping by. For some, this increase could mean the difference between making rent every month and enduring the hardship of houselessness. For others, it would be enough to make their lives just a bit easier. And sometimes, that's all people need: just for their lives to be a tiny bit easier. A tiny bit less stressful.
When I first graduated from college, I had a hard time finding work in my field and had to work as a server in two different restaurants just to get by. Eventually, I was able to find a job in my degree field, but until I did, there were times I wasn't sure I'd make my rent.
For people like me--for restaurant servers--eliminating the tip credit would also be a big help. If I had a slow night, I might not make anything in tips. But I was still there at work. Folks who work at fast food restaurants get paid minimum wage whether they get a single customer during their shift or not. Why should a server at a sit-down restaurant be any different?
Every time politicians decide it's time to increase the minimum wage, that's great. But once that increase has passed, inflation causes people making minimum wage start to fall behind again. To solve this problem, all future increases in the minimum wage should be tied to increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which this bill does.
I hope you will think about those in your community who are working so hard to make ends meet and support this bill.
Mahalo for the opportunity to testify,