Businesses React to Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Some Democrats in the Iowa Legislature want to raise the minimum wage here in Iowa.

Today, Representative Pat Murphy introduced a bill calling for an increase from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

Representative Murphy says he's optimistic this will be the year something gets done on the minimum wage issue here in Iowa. His office says this potential increase could help 300,000 Iowans with expenses. Some businesses, though, are keeping an eye on the statehouse.

"Oh yea, I watch it and it concerns me very much," said Smuggler's Wharf Owner Allen Zindrick.

It's a busy night at Smuggler's Wharf in the Czech Village. The crew is working to prepare many different seafood dishes. But while he's working to feed his customers, he's also always thinking of the future of his business.

"Things are tough in the restaurant business as it is right now, much less if we have to raise our minimum wage. You are going to have a dishwasher making $10.10 an hour, you are kind of looking and going 'wow that's crazy'," Zindrick said.

He says if rates do go up, prices on the menu would likely increase too. That could mean fewer customers in these seats.

"I worry about everybody. You know, like I said, there are a lot of restaurants in town that are going to take a hit," Zindrick said.

Pat Murphy said his bill is all about helping people make ends meet. He said many young mothers and minorities are still at the low end of the pay scale.

"There are people who have jobs that are paying between $7.25 and $10.00 an hour that quite frankly they haven't seen a pay raise in 7 years. We have gone through a recession and I think quite frankly it's time to address those people getting a pay raise," said State Rep. Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque.

Owner of Joensy's in Cedar Rapids, Kevin Joens, sees the positive side of this debate

"Instead of just looking at the negative aspect, like it's going to hurt me and my overhead. Well, maybe it will actually stimulate people to go out and spend more because they have more," Joens said.

Regardless of what happens, he'll continue making his tenderloins and wait to see what happens with the bill.

"If it happens, it happens. You just gotta move on and hope for the best,"

Representative Murphy says his bill is designed to incrementally increase until it hits that $10.10 mark in January of 2016. Of course, we'll be following this story as the legislative session continues.
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