Business owner reacts to proposed minimum wage hike

File Photo
File Photo

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – President Obama issued an executive order to raise the minimum wage for all federal contract workers, as part of Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address.

He now urges congress to do the same for all workers, and many Indiana legislators are making the same plea. This could have a big impact on the state in the long run.

“In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order for contractors to pay their federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour,” said President Obama, during his State of the Union Address.

Its part of a larger goal to spread the wealth, and one proposal, Indiana Bill SB 327, would do just that.

For Ryan Cummins, co-owner of The Apple House Garden Center in Terre Haute, the hike from $7.25 to $10 an hour would mean difficult changes.

“Now it’s either going to be paid for by the business in the form of reduced profits. It’s going to be paid for by customers in the form of higher prices or reduced services,” said Cummins.

As the business employs anywhere from 15 to 40 workers the more likely scenario would be pay cuts or even job loss.

“The group that’s going to bear that cost is either new employees that will have reduced hours or all those folks that won’t be hired in the first place,” said Cummins.

Come spring, the greenhouse will be full of employees watering plants to keep this business alive but, if minimum wage is increased, that might not be the case.

“That’s not a skilled job but it takes a fair amount of people to do it, and the higher the labor costs are to accomplish that we will have to start looking at other ways to water. Automatic watering systems are available,” said Cummins.

With the potential $2.75 spike, he fears entry level jobs will no longer exist.

“There is no such thing as a young teenager starting out trying to learn how to work, how to show up on time, and how to do a job,” said Cummins.

A local business since 1939, The Apple House would survive the proposed change. But, opponents question if it would do more harm than good.

“If you hate poor people who have fewer skills, if you especially despise young teenagers who need to learn work skills than by all means you should support minimum wage,” Cummins said.

Although no timeline has been set, Indiana’s bill to raise minimum wage statewide is currently awaiting a hearing.

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