Minimum wage again top priority

Congressional supporters of legislation to raise the national minimum wage rate wasted no time at the turn of the new year introducing a new plan that is certain to draw opposition from foodservice industry leaders.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), would add another $1.50 to the cost of hiring many new workers—enough to dampen employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of inexperienced or unskilled job applicants across the country, critics contend.

Daschle, however, calls the proposed increase a move to "ensure greater dignity for our minimum wage workers" who cannot support a family above the poverty line.

"The purchasing power of the minimum wage is now the lowest it has been in more than 30 years," he says. "If we can afford over a trillion dollars in tax cuts for those at the top of the income scale, we can afford a dollar-fifty more an hour for those at the bottom."