Hawaii workers just got a bump in minimum wage. It’s now $9.25 an hour.
One lawmaker wants to take it even further — by more than doubling the minimum wage in five years.
While it would be a win for workers — small businesses aren’t so sure.
As prices continue to go up in Hawaii, with segments of the population struggling to make ends meet, representative Kaniela Ing says something has to be done, “There’s lots of ways to help our most vulnerable but there’s no policy that will be more impactful than raising the minimum wage.”
Ing is sponsoring a bill that would stick with the state’s already agreed upon minimum wage increase to $10.10 by 2018, but would go two steps further. His proposal is to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2019, and $22 by 2022, But he’s willing to negotiate, “I’m not stuck at $22. It’s more of a moral argument. $22 is actually living wage, if you want to and pay your employees less than that you better make a strong case.”
When the minimum wage is raised, it affects workers as well as local businesses, something the Head chef and owner Goran V. Streng of Tango Bistro says is a concern. “It’s something that we would have to pass on to the to the customers. Any business would. And as a small restaurant it’s going to be a major burden on us. We might have to reconsider the type of service, the type of menus, not just for the service staff but for dishwashers – everybody involved.”
Ing maintains switching to a $15 minimum wage is good for businesses, as well as workers, “Workers are happier as a matter fact workers have higher retention rates and new mom and pops are opening every day and unemployment hasn’t gone up.”
Streng says he believes in paying a living wage to skilled workers, “I think you should pay people living wage when they provide a service. For me they need to have the skills to go with it. To me you need to earn it. It’s not something that we just give it to you.”