Jan. 21-- COLUMBUS, Ohio-A coalition of community and union leaders wants Ohioans to vote this fall on a proposed constitutional amendment to gradually raise Ohio's minimum wage by nearly 50% to $13 an hour by 2025.
The state's current minimum wage of $8.70 an hour leaves some full-time workers in poverty, the group, Ohioans for Raising the Wage, said in a Tuesday statement.
Petition language for the amendment and the required 1,000 signatures have been submitted to Attorney General Dave Yost for approval. The group would need to gather 422,958 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters by July 1 to make the ballot.
A full-time worker with a family of three falls $3,000 below the poverty line of $21,330 under the current minimum wage, according to Policy Matters Ohio.
The proposal would increase the minimum wage to $9.60 an hour on Jan. 1, 2021 and then boost it by 85 cents for four years to reach $13 an hour ($27,040 annually) in 2025. Future increases then would be tied to the rate of inflation.
James Hayes, a spokesman for Ohioans for Raising the Wage, said the group is recruiting additional members and volunteers and working to raise money to pay for the petition-circulating effort.
Scott DiMauro, president of the 122,000-member Ohio Education Association, said many parents "can't afford to make ends meet and too many students are forced to make do with the very basics." Economic stability at home would make it easier for pupils to perform better at school, he said.
Anthony Caldwell, public affairs director for the 30,000-member Service Employees International Union district 1199, said, "People working 40 hours a week at minimum wage can barely afford groceries. We've got to do something. Minimum wage is not enough to cover even the most basic needs."
The group targeted a minimum wage at $13 an hour-instead of the-often-discussed level of $15 an hour constituting a living wage-based on polling showing 65% of likely voters would support an hourly wage at that level, Hayes said.
Ohio's minimum hourly wage of $8.70, which increases annually based on the inflation, ranks 28th among the states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The average state minimum wage last year was $11.80.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce contends a sizable increase in the minimum wage would financially strap some employers, leading to the loss of nearly 4 million jobs.
Ohio State University, OhioHealth, Mount Carmel Health System, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Franklin County and the city of Columbus are among employers that announced within the past year they would pay a minimum of $15 an hour.
(c)2020 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.