APPLETON - Employees at fast food restaurants across the country staged walkouts to protest the minimum wage Thursday. They want to see the wage raised from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, but some say the increase is not affordable.
These workers left work Thursday as a call to raise the minimum wage. They said $7.25 an hour is not enough to support a family.
While State Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) told FOX 11 he sympathizes, he says he's not sure about changing anything.
"The minimum wage was never meant to be family sustaining wage. It's an entry-level wage. You're supposed to work your way up from there," said Steineke.
Marc Schaffer is an assistant professor of economics at St. Norbert College. He explained that times and the economy have changed since a minimum wage law was first created in the U.S. in 1938.
"In light of the recent recession, there's a lot of people who lost work and are taking those jobs as their primary jobs," said Schaffer.
"They certainly deserve to be able to support their family. If they've worked hard and they're putting in a full day's work, that full week's work, they deserve to be fairly rewarded for it," commented State Rep. Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay), who told us corporations are making record profits. He said they can afford to pay their workers what some call a "living wage."
"I'm certainly supportive of raising our state's minimum wage and even more supportive of raising that federal wage," state Genrich.
But Steineke told us that would result in fewer jobs for young people.
"If you raise the minimum wage artificially without the market forces doing it," said Steineke.
Schaffer said workers should consider asking for a lower increase.
"If they're going to get a doubled minimum wage up to the $15, whatever they're asking for, either A. those fast food companies are going to have to lay off some workers to cover that or B. they're going to have to impose some increases in prices for consumers," said Schaffer.
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Capital Credit Union is offering to match donations made to Salvation Army red kettles in the Fox Valley on Friday.
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