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Workers, Some Businesses Rejoice Over Minimum Wage Hike

Reported: Apr. 1, 2014 10:24 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 1, 2014 10:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill Tuesday that would increase mininum wage. The bill will raise the current $7.25 minimum per hour to $8 in 2015 and then to $8.75 in 2016.

The bill also prevents 80-percent of the state's employers from using federal overtime exemptions. Tomblin says he's pleased thousands of workers will be able to take home more money, but he is concerned about those changes to overtime rules and has called a special session to address that May 19.

The wage hike is great news for the more than 137,00 West Virginians who currently earn minimum wage.. A lot of people and even some businesses say it's high time the state did this, but there are still some concerns...

At Pizza Barbarossa in Charlesotn, you might think workers are struggling to get by on minimum wage. But the restaurant's owner says he's committed to paying employees a living wage in order to keep a quality staff.

"For the employees, I hope they appreciate what we do for them because we try our best to pay more money or do some more things to make them stay and work for us," said Manoli Stavrulakis, Pizza Barbarossa owner.

Michael Smith is a father of two, and is glad his minimum wage days are behind him because it's only getting tougher to get by.

"Give them the opportunity to make more money than just the $7. I mean a gallon of milk is three something. A gallon of gas is going up," Smith said.

Student Daya Cole agrees.

"Everybody's like raising prices so I think the minimum wage should be higher so we can afford the prices that's being raised," said Cole.

Smith's also convinced that offering a better wage gives more benefits to the community than just putting more money in a worker's pocket.

"Give them the opportunity to get more money I beleive the crime rate would go down," said Smith.

Back at the pizza place, the owner acknowledges between the weather and water crisis, it's been a tough year. But he's glad lawmakers are recognizing workers at every business could use some extra cash.

"In this state of West Virginia, I believe it's kind of low--the minimum wage. So I think it could be raised a little bit," said Stavrulakis.

Certainly not everyone is in favor of this minimum wage increase. The National Federation of Independent Business had urged Governor Tomblin to veto the bill and insist forcing small businesses to pay workers more will lead to layoffs and higher prices for you.



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