Brown calls for $15 federal minimum wage by 2020

Published 10:57 am Thursday, June 23, 2016

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage, something he says is long overdue.

Brown called for a gradual phase-in of a $15 minimum wage by 2020 in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

Brown outlined a legislative agenda that he said would help to build the middle class, such as raising the minimum wage, increasing access to paid sick leave, protecting overtime pay for workers, and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Email newsletter signup

Brown was joined on the conference call by Gary Johnson, a Toledo businessman who is the president and CEO of American Floors and Interiors, located in Toledo.

Johnson said his business has been able to pay fair wages to his workers.

“It helps us attract and retain good employees,” Johnson said. “There has not been a minimum wage raise in seven years, but cost have gone up. That’s bad for the economy. Raising the minimum wage puts money in the paychecks of the people who will spend it.”

Brown took issue with the claims of conservatives, who say an increase in the minimum wage would increase the cost of doing business, leading to higher prices and job cuts.

“I never hear them say that when a CEO gets a bonus or a golden parachute,” he said.

Brown’s conference call came on the heels of a new report from Oxfam America and the Economic Policy Institute, titled “Few Rewards,” which stated that millions of low wage workers are struggling to make ends meet.

The report ranked Ohio 25th in the concentration of workers earning less than $12 an hour. While the report found that 33.7 percent of those making less than $12 an hour were younger than 25, which would include entry level workers and teenagers, the results showed 66.2 percent were 25 or older.

Brown said that 4.6 million Ohioans live in households supported by a someone earning less than $15,000 a year.

“We used to have a social contract,” Brown said, stating that, in the past, workers earned enough to get by and meet family needs.

“These people aren’t looking for a handout,” Brown said. “They want to be paid what they’re worth.”