Could minimum wage go up to $20 an hour in PA? 

May 28 – The Pennsylvania Senate may be looking at hiking minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $20 per hour. 

There are various proposals, some of which also include $10 and $15 an hour. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll pointed out, “I don’t know where this goes. I mean, there are various proposals out there. Look no further than California though. They are having some real problems with that increased minimum wage that passed, not only business closures but businesses that have stayed open or are reporting a lot of problems with it. So I don’t know what Pennsylvania does with this.”

Could the $20 per hour just be a number the legislators are throwing out to get the actual number lower than that? 

Barkdoll wondered could legislators know “that there very well could be a compromise in the context of this budget negotiation? Maybe it lands at $10 or $12. That would not surprise me. Certainly the votes are not in the Senate at $20 an hour, but I wonder if the votes would be there, what if it landed at $10? Is that something that the Senate could live with and then would that get through the House and Governor Shapiro, just the idea of they’ve done something on it? I think it’s a possibility.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “I find it disturbing because it’s just the concept that the government can control what people contract between each other for pay is wrong all across the board, in my opinion, especially when you don’t make any caveats. I always question this, why can’t we, if you’re going to do it, even if we make it $10 an hour, why can’t there be exceptions to the rule for when it’s young workers who are going to gain job experience or completely novice employee who again is going to learn the job on the job? Why can we not find some way to contextualize this so that everybody across the board including nonprofits who maybe do something wonderful that people are willing to work less for? Why do we not let there be exceptions to a rule? Why is it always all across the board?”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM wondered, “Why wouldn’t then this nonprofit go here, you’re an independent contractor. Why don’t I just pay you a flat fee for the year or something? Can you get around that?”

Jansen added, “And how long can you? Because seeing independent contractors like Uber drivers already getting sucked into all this nonsense.”

Barkdoll said, “That’s a slippery slope because if they truly are a 1099, independent contractor, you cannot have direct, every day oversight of them setting their hours and their work conditions and that’s not going to fly. Again, California went to $16 an hour, although certain industries and I believe health care is one of them, it’s $25 an hour in California. I would encourage our friends in Harrisburg, look at what’s happening out there just after a few months. It has not gone as well or as harmless as governor Newsom claimed it would when that legislation went into effect later in the year.”

Jansen said, “It’s a tax, is it not? It really has the effect it has.” 

Barkdoll agreed, “Essentially that’s what it is because that money, those wages, the employers can’t just absorb all of that. So it’s getting passed along to you, the consumer, the end user and of course that’s contributing to inflation and that’s why you’re seeing a lot of restaurants and other businesses now closed in California.” 

Ryan asked, “How does that work when you see fast food value wars that are happening out there? They’re trying to get back the consumer after some real tough press, the fast food guys that are just trying to keep their head above water. So how do you pay them $20 an hour and then do a $3 value meal?”

Barkdoll said, “There’s shrinkflation at the fast food places, the products themselves are getting smaller. You saw that McDonald’s and I believe some others are now doing away with the self-service soda fountains. That’s all related to what we’re discussing. Anywhere they can cut into these margins and eliminate some of the excess usage, if you will, of consumers, they’re being forced to do it. There’s a lot of reporting last week that now the fast food restaurants, they’re into another war again on prices trying to do what they can to lower prices to a point that they’re still profitable, but to draw people back in. A lot of the same store sales. That’s the key metric that Wall Street looks at, year over year growth. Same store sales in some of these restaurants is declining and that’s a real warning sign.”