Minimum wage debate returns to Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A nationwide push to raise the minimum wage returns to Indianapolis Thursday with more local protests.

It’s a hot button issue from the nation’s capital to the fast food counter. Fast food workers have protested a handful of times over the last year. Workers in more than 100 cities have joined what’s been dubbed the “Fight for 15” – a campaign for employees to earn $15 per hour.

Organizers said Marion County has about 24,000 fast food workers who make less than $9 an hour.  A recent study found half of those workers rely on government assistance.

Efforts to gradually raise today’s $7.25 an hour minimum wage to $10.10 over a 30 month period haven’t gotten much traction in Congress.

On Wednesday, during a stop in Indianapolis, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said he thinks it’s time.

“I speak to business owner after business owner who tells me, ‘Tom what I need most right now are customers,’” said Perez. “What we need if we want to pick up the pace of growth … is we need to do things that put money in people’s pockets to stimulate consumption. The companies that do business here are going to make more things if people have more money in their pockets.”

Critics argue raising the minimum wage would hurt employers, forcing them to cut jobs and become less productive.

Right now the minimum wage in Indiana is $7.25. There have been no recent proposals to raise the minimum wage in Indianapolis. In 2013, the state legislature voted down a plan to raise the minimum wage to $8.25.

The mayor of Chicago is asking his city council to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2018. And the mayor of Los Angeles has unveiled a plan to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017.

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