Minimum Wage Supporters To Seek Republican Endorsements

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 177 views 

Steve Copley, head of Give Arkansas A Raise Now, a coalition seeking to increase the state minimum wage, said he hopes to diversify his group’s supporters.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that anybody who would like from any party to endorse this, we’d be very welcoming, very entertaining of that,” said Copley, who appeared on this week’s edition of “Talk Business & Politics,” which airs Sundays at 9am on KATV Ch. 7.

High-profile Democrats, such as U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross, and Fourth District Congressional candidate James Lee Witt, have voiced support for raising the minimum wage. No high-profile Republicans have stepped forward and supported the state initiative despite widespread public approval. Copley said his group would soon begin to reach out and recruit Republican support for the measure.

Give Arkansas A Raise Now (GARN) and another group supporting a raise in the state minimum wage, the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance, are pushing a ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage in Arkansas from $6.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour over the next three years.

The proposal would eventually supersede the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour, if Congress takes no action on the national rate.

The average salary for an Arkansas worker under the current state minimum wage is $12,750 annually. If the wage were eventually raised to $8.50 per hour, a full-time employee would earn $17,680 annually.

GARN and the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance have reached the signature threshold from more than 62,507 voters, but they are still collecting additional signatures. Secretary of State Mark Martin will review the signatures for their validity in July before determining if the initiated act qualifies for consideration on the November ballot.

The major money raised by supporters for raising the minimum wage so far include contributions from:

  • Pinnacle Structures Inc. – $20,000
  • American Federation of Government Employees – $30,000
  • Sheet Metal Workers’ International – $25,000
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – $20,000
  • Democratic Party of Arkansas – $10,000

Only certain members of the hospitality industry have expressed reservations about raising the minimum wage. No formal groups have stepped forward in opposition.

A Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll taken in April shows overwhelming support for the state minimum wage hike initiative. About 79% of Arkansans said they supported raising the minimum wage, while only 17% opposed it.

Copley said he’s not surprised by the broad public support.

“I think folks know instinctively – they have a family member, a friend, a colleague – they’re working hard, they’re playing by the rules and they can’t make ends meet,” he said.

You can watch his full interview below.