Voters approve minimum wage rise in Ohio

Breanne George

After 10 years, Ohio’s minimum wage will increase. Issue 2, Ohio’s Fair Minimum Wage initiative, passed yesterday with 58 percent of the vote.

The state constitutional amendment will raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, effective Jan. 1, and will keep pace with inflation every year. Tipped employees will also see an increase from $2.13 to $3.43 per hour.

Senior case management major Tascha Dixon said she believes the amendment is long overdue. She said it is nearly impossible to live on the current rate of $5.15.

“Raising the minimum wage will make it easier for families to survive,” she said.

Small businesses making $250,000 or less in annual revenue, and workers under the age of 16 are exempt from the requirements.

Issue 2 will affect the lives of 300,000 minimum wage workers, and an estimated 400,000 workers making slightly above minimum wage are likely to see an increase. In total, this represents about 14 percent of the Ohio work force.

The amendment will also benefit college students, who make up a large percentage of minimum wage workers, such as freshman exploratory major Ryan Brown who voted for Issue 2 because he believes it will make his life easier.

“If you are a young person, you wouldn’t have to work as many hours,” Brown said. “You would have more time to devote to schoolwork.”

Keary McCarthy, spokesperson for the AFL-CIO, said raising the minimum wage has been a long fight. Four bills were introduced in the legislature over the last five years.

“None of these bills received much of a hearing,” McCarthy said. “The minimum wage has not been increased since we first had a minimum wage policy.”

In recent months, the AFL-CIO has put political pressure on Republican leadership in both the Senate and House of Representatives to support raising the minimum wage, McCarthy added.

Bill Adams, senior justice studies major, is torn on his feelings about the amendment. He said he has worked in minimum wage jobs with long hours and little respect, but does not believe Issue 2 is the solution.

“I don’t think it should always be up to the government,” Adams said. “Since people can afford more, prices will go up.”

Adams said Issue 2 will not change the degrading treatment he has encountered in minimum wage jobs.

Opponents fear privacy issues associated with the record-keeping requirements. John McGough, spokesperson for Ohioans to Protect Personal Privacy, said 70 percent of the amendment relates to this provision.

Employers must maintain extensive records of employees three years after their last day of work. Record requirements include basic personal information as well as the employee’s pay rate, hours worked and amount paid.

In addition, employers must provide this information free of charge to the employee or person acting on the employee’s behalf.

Dixon said she thinks the record-keeping requirements are necessary for future job references.

“If an employer calls for a recommendation, the employee’s information is on file,” she said. “It’s more convenient.”

Contact public affairs reporter Breanne George at [email protected].