Debate Continues Over Minimum Wage


VERONA -- The debate continues over the future of minimum wage jobs.

"Stagnant" is what Tara Odom calls her situation. She works in fast food, declining to say where. She hopes for a raise in minimum wage so she can get out of what she calls a "vicious cycle."

"It's real hard, living paycheck to paycheck," Odom said.

Odom supports herself and her injured boyfriend by working a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant. She says she is trapped, unable to work anywhere else because she cannot afford a car to get anywhere else.

"It feels like there's no way to get out of the stagnant," she said. "If you're constantly just in a circle, going in a circle, chasing your tail."

Fast food workers across the country have walked the picket lines, part of an effort to get minimum wage raised to $15/hour, a move that provoked reactions this week from supporters and critics alike.

"Raise minimum wage," said Eugene Kennedy, outside a McDonald's. "Raise minimum wage. If it's $15, if it's $10, raise it."

"If they raise it to $15," said McDonald's customer Kenneth Isner, "a hamburger's going to cost three bucks. A dollar's going to cost a lot more."

Odom said she would like to see minimum wage raised to $10, from $7.25.

"I think we should all take that chance," she said. "Just so people like me in my situation can at least try to save up money."

Earlier this year in his State of the Union address President Obama called on Congress to raise federal minimum wage to nine dollars, a move his labor secretary also supports.

Furthering the debate, a controversial bill in Washington D.C. would require large retailers like Walmart to pay employees $12.50/hour. That bill now awaits either the signature or veto of the D.C. mayor.


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