Yarmuth calls on Congress to raise minimum wage


by Amy Stallings


Posted on August 4, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 4 at 8:08 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Congressman John Yarmuth wants to put pressure on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage.

Joined by local workers, business owners and labor unions, he called on Congress Monday to approve the Fair Minimum Wage Act. If passed, the act would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over a three year period.

Opponents said the majority of minimum wage workers are teenagers, and these jobs are stepping stones. But Yarmuth, and statics, disagree.

“Two-thirds of minimum wage-earners today are women. One in four is a parent. In fact, the average minimum wage owner is 35-years-old, earning about $15,000 a year for full-time work. Thirty-six percent below the federal poverty level,” Yarmuth said.

Yarmuth has co-sponsored the bill, but it's stalled in the Republican-led house.

There were also local business owners at the rally to show their support.

"Now, I pay more than a minimum wage, I always have. We've been open about three years now and I've always paid more," Erin Lee, owner of Smokey's Bean coffee shop in old Louisville, said.

She said she has lived on minimum wage before and knows how hard it can be to make ends meet.

"If you put yourself in that position you could see how hard it is to make it," Lee said, "I am a single mother and I've worked for minimum wage before it's hard when you are trying to pay your bills, go to school; even gas, groceries. It's really hard and to juggle two or three jobs just to make your rent it's not fair."

Smokey's Bean is a unionized shop with four employees. Lee says her workers usually make $8.50 to $9 an hour after they're fully trained.

"I am a very small business, and if I can do it, why can't McDonalds. If I can do it, why can't Starbucks, it's just they are making millions. I am well below that, but I try to do what's right for my employees, it's only fair," Lee said.