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Media Alert: Digital Press Conference set for noon on endorsing Raise the Wage Act, $15 Minimum wage for tipped workers

New poll shows 2/3 of West Virginians support raising minimum wage to $15

Release from Working Families Party of West Virginia:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Working Families Party of West Virginia, One Fair Wage, Ultraviolet, and West Virginia restaurant employers and workers — Thursday at noon — will speak to support for and impacts of the Raise the Wage Act, which is included in President Biden’s proposed COVID relief package, on West Virginia. The Raise the Wage Act proposes raising the minimum wage for all workers to $15 an hour by 2025 and phasing out the subminimum wage for tipped workers. 

WHEN: Thursday, February 25th. 12:00pm ET

SPEAKERS INCLUDE: 

  • Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage.
  • Ryan Frankenberry, Executive Director of West Virginia Working Families Party.
  • Amy Jo Hutchinson, Our Future West Virginia
  • Lynette Maselli, West Virginia- based Consultant of One Fair Wage.
  • West Virginia Workers & employers

TO RSVP please email Madison Donzis at [email protected]

New data being released on Thursday shows that this proposal would uplift hundreds of thousands workers – it would cut West Virginia’s poverty rate by 34% – and not increase small business closures.

New polling by One Fair Wage in West Virginia shows strong, statewide support for phasing out the subminimum wage and giving tipped workers One Fair Wage:

  • 63% of West Virginians report supporting a raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 when they are told that 43% of West Virginia workers (including paramedics) earn less than $15 an hour.
  • 66% of West Virginians support One Fair Wage: a full minimum wage plus tips on top. This support level grows modestly when adding the messaging that invokes West Virginia restaurant servers being mostly women who use food stamps at nearly three times the rate of other workers (71% support).
  • People are paying attention to the minimum wage discussion. 87% of West Virginians have recently heard something about Congress raising the minimum wage.
  • 59% of West Virginians support the $1.9 trillion stimulus relief bill that includes a full minimum wage to service industry workers.

In West Virginia, the minimum wage is $8.75 for all workers, while the subminimum wage for tipped workers stands at only $2.62 per hour. All of these workers would be lifted out of poverty by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers, including tipped workers, reducing the poverty level in West Virginia to 10%, a 34% reduction in the state poverty level.

One Fair Wage also found that:

  • 43% percent of West Virginia’s total workforce earns an hourly median wage below $15 and 13% (88,000 people) earn less than $10 hourly.
    • Those who earn less than $10 an hour work primarily in the service industry and are essential workers.
    • The food service sector is one of the largest employers in West Virginia, and it provides some of the lowest wages in the state.
  • Workers earning under $15 comprise 74% of all workers receiving food stamp benefits in West Virginia. 
    • Tipped workers use food stamps at nearly three times the rate of all other workers in West Virginia.
  • Over a third of all workers who earn under $15 an hour in West Virginia have at least one child.
  • 60% of tipped workers in West Virginia are women, and 10% are workers of color.


READ MORE ABOUT HOW THE RAISE THE WAGE ACT WOULD HELP WEST VIRGINIA WORKERS HERE:

https://onefairwage.site/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/OFW_RaiseTheWAgeAct_WV-1.pdf

One Fair Wages’ analysis comes after a new study from the group released earlier this week compared data on state-by-state rates of decline in open small businesses and found that the data does not corroborate claims that phasing out the subminimum wage for tipped workers would cause small business restaurants to close. In fact, West Virginia has had a larger number of business closures than Montana, a state that requires tipped workers to be paid One Fair Wage – a full minimum wage with tips on top –  and which West Virginia is often compared to.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: https://onefairwage.site/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/OFW_DeclineHospBus_3.pdf

Also earlier this week, West Virginia restaurant owner Keeley Steele of Bluegrass Restaurant joined 200 other restaurant owners nationwide in signing onto a letter endorsing the Raise the Wage Act. The letter explains how the bill is particularly important to restaurant owners, because restaurants that would like to pay their employees livable wages are at a competitive disadvantage to restaurant groups that continue to leverage wages as low as $2.13 per hour to keep the true cost of food and hospitality artificially low in the minds of consumers. 

SEE THE LETTER AND A FULL LIST OF SIGNERS HERE: 

https://onefairwage.site/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Final-Letter-3.pdf

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