Knoxville businesses speak out against minimum wage increase

Knoxville businesses speak out against minimum wage increase proposal

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"I think it would be a detriment to small businesses," Knoxville business owner Conrad Majors said. "I think it would be a detriment to small businesses," Knoxville business owner Conrad Majors said.
"We pay our employees more than the minimum wage," Earth to Old City co-owner Vada West said. "There's some people out there that are really trying and it makes it very hard, especially if they have kids and have to pay a babysitter." "We pay our employees more than the minimum wage," Earth to Old City co-owner Vada West said. "There's some people out there that are really trying and it makes it very hard, especially if they have kids and have to pay a babysitter."

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - During the State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour and said about 15 million people nationwide would get a raise if the minimum wage is increased.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, around 101,000 people in Tennessee earned the minimum wage rate of $7.25 an hour or less in 2011.

"I think it would be a detriment to small businesses," Knoxville business owner Conrad Majors said.

Majors has owned Greenlee's Bicycle Hospital in North Knoxville for 65 years. He has three full-time employees and hires three part-time ones during the summer.

The part-time workers earn minimum wage.

Majors said he would likely have to stop hiring them if the wage increase goes into effect and he said he expects the same would happen to other small businesses.

"They can't afford to pay that kind of money to people that are part-timers or people that are being trained," Majors said.

Tennessee Small Business Development Centers (TSBDC) is also against the proposed change.

TSBDC said the move means the difference between staying open or permanently shutting down for some local businesses.

"Over the last two or three years, most small business people already laid off people so that now they're running as lean as they possibly can, so I'm not sure laying off people to stay in business is going to be an option," TSBDC Director Larry Rossini said.

But workers earning the minimum wage said the increase is desperately needed.

President of United Campus Workers, Tom Anderson, represents higher education employees throughout the state and many of them earn minimum wage.

"Nine dollars isn't really what I think would be a living wage in this area, but it's definitely the step in the right direction," Anderson said.

One small business owner said she agreed the current minimum wage is too low.

"We pay our employees more than the minimum wage," Earth to Old City co-owner Vada West said. "There's some people out there that are really trying and it makes it very hard, especially if they have kids and have to pay a babysitter."

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