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NC Lawmakers Join the Fight to Raise the Minimum Wage

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Bills introduced this session would raise the wage to $15 and cover more workers

North Carolina lawmakers joined Raising Wages NC — a growing coalition of labor groups, advocates, business, and faith leaders — at a legislative press conference March 19th to announce the introduction of bills in the state house and state senate that would raise the minimum wage.

Click here to watch and read coverage by WRAL.

H.B. 366 is inclusive legislation that raises the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2024, indexes it to the cost of living, ends the subminimum wage for persons with disabilities, phases it out for tipped workers, and repeals exemptions for agricultural and domestic workers. Rep. Susan Fisher is one of the bill's primary sponsors and spoke at the event.

"Our bill is about making sure that everyone who works full time can earn a living wage, that everyone can afford the basics and that everyone has a fair opportunity to work hard and succeed, including people with disabilities, people who care for our homes and our families, people who serve our food and the people who grow it," Fisher said.

Watch livestream video of the entire event.

North Carolina’s minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for a decade and does not cover domestic or farm workers.

“This bill will undo decades of exclusions for workers like me,” said Priscilla Smith of Durham, a direct care worker and a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which is part of the Raising Wages NC Coalition. “We are taking steps to finally include all workers and make sure no one gets left behind in the fight for living wages.”

Read the NC Justice Center report, "Why raising the minimum wage is good for everyone
in North Carolina"

According to a report released by the nonpartisan NC Justice Center, gradually raising the minimum wage in North Carolina to $15 an hour by 2024 “would boost paychecks for almost 1.6 million working people, giving each of them a raise of $4,422 per year and a combined $7 billion for all workers across the state.” Moreover, the report’s authors reviewed empirical studies on job growth and employment rates and found no difference between states which have enacted minimum wage increases and those that have not. Even in cases where employers reduced hours to offset higher labor costs, the report finds that workers still came out ahead from higher hourly earnings and predicted that North Carolina “businesses will directly benefit” when 1.6 million new customers are able to spend those higher earnings on their goods and services.

“As I always say, the economy and community cannot be successful unless everyone has an opportunity to participate,” said Eric Henry, president of TS Designs in Burlington and chair of the N.C. Business Council. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 is a good step toward achieving that goal.”

The next stop for H.B. 366 is the House Finance Committee. Immediately following the press conference, Rep. Fisher and two workers who spoke led attendees to deliver signed petitions to the committee's co-chairs to ask for a hearing on the bill.

Call and email the Chairs of the Finance Committee to call for a hearing on H.B. 366! Our focus right now is on the House:

Click here to sign the Raising Wages NC petition.

Check out photos from the press conference and action.

Reps. Susan Fisher, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, MaryAnn Black, and Pricey Harrison are primary sponsors of H.B. 366.

Sens. Floyd McKissick, Wiley Nickel, and Mujtaba Mohammed are primary sponsors of S.B. 291, legislation introduced in the state senate to also raise North Carolina’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.

In addition to lawmakers, speakers at the press conference included Rev. Jennifer Copeland, NC Council of Churches; Wendy’s worker Earl Bradley and Waffle House waitress Eshawney Gaston, Raise Up for $15 and a Union; direct care worker Priscilla Smith, National Domestic Workers Alliance We Dream in Black NC Chapter; TS Designs president Eric Henry, NC Business Council; and Ana Pardo, NC Justice Center Workers’ Rights Project.

SB291 would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2024. North Carolina’s minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for a decade. We need a real living wage in North Carolina. It’s time to give North Carolinians a raise!

— Sen. Wiley Nickel (@wileynickel) March 19, 2019

The @NCStateAFLCIO is at the #NCGA today advocating for fair wages for tipped & domestic workers, jobs held mostly by women. They have been underpaid for too many years.

— Senator Natasha Marcus (@NatashaMarcusNC) March 19, 2019

We’re proud to stand with minimum wage workers today to demand that the NC legislature #RaiseTheWage. #ncpol

— NC Workers Rights (@NCWorkers) March 19, 2019