Shumlin signs minimum wage increase - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin signs minimum wage increase

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Governor Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, used his signature to give Vermont's lowest earners a pay raise.

The new law will lift Vermont's minimum wage from $8.73 to $9.15 on January first of next year, but it also ensures yearly hikes through 2018.

The minimum wage will climb to 9.60 by 2016, a flat $10 by 2017, and $10.50 by 2018.

"What this means is that as a region, this part of New England is saying to hard-working Vermonters, and hard-working Americans, you will get paid a fairer wage for the hard work that you're doing," said Shumlin.

In March, Shumlin joined President Barack Obama in calling for all Northeastern states to raise minimum marks to $10.10 by 2017.

Prior to that, the issue did not have traction within the Statehouse.

At The Blue Stone Restaurant in Waterbury, co-owner Chris Fish doesn't think the change in the law will cost him any additional dough.

"The bottom line is if you want a quality employee, presumably in any industry but specifically in the restaurant industry, you have to pay at least the going rate, which is a few dollars an hour above minimum wage period," said Fish.

Fish says his lowest paid, regular employees already make more than $11 an hour.

Tipped-employees here also make more than the current minimum of $4.23 an hour.

That wage will be half of the regular minimum wage in future years, and Fish says that connection could cook up problems a few years from now.

"This is a business where even 50 cents or a dollar an hour over the course of 20 employees, over the course of a week, times 52 a year, can have a profound effect on whether you sink or swim," said Fish

Critics of the legislation say they're concerned about the ratchet effect where those currently making slightly more than the minimum wage would want an increase when their lower-earning peers receive a bump.

Fish says he doesn't need to worry about that because none of his employees make the minimum.

The Governor says that the ratchet effect would have a positive impact as it means more money into Vermonters' pockets and a stronger economy.

Shumlin also said that he supports the concept of mandating paid sick days, but repeated his concern that he's not convinced lawmakers have come up with the right way to do it yet.

He would not commit to getting progress on the issue in 2015.


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