Bringing attention to the minimum wage in Texas

Smaller+local+restaurants+like+Los+Mochis+would+find+it+difficult+stay+in+business+if+the+minimum%0Awage+was+raised+too+high.

Photo Courtesy | Ashley Peoples

Smaller local restaurants like Los Mochis would find it difficult stay in business if the minimum wage was raised too high.

Ashley Peoples, Staff Reporter

By: Ashley Peoples | Staff Reporter

Texas has not raised its minimum wage in 10 years while 21 states raised theirs at the start of 2020.

According to an article published on March 5, 2019 by The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), a preemption law over minimum wage was passed in Texas in 2003. This law mandates that a local government’s minimum wage cannot be over the federal minimum wage. 

“There has been a trend to implement these minimum wage preemption laws across the nation in the last few years,” according to the article.

In the 86th Legislative Session, State Representative Ron Reynolds proposed bill HB194 which would have raised the minimum wage to $15 on Sept. 1, 2019. Five other bills were also proposed in the same session to raise it to $10.10 that would have been put into effect by now, but none of the bills were passed.

Minimum wage can be set by the states or the federal government; and the higher wage applies when there is a discrepancy between the two.

The federal minimum wage limit remains at $7.25 which was implemented in 2009. The last time Texas raised its minimum wage was in 2010 from $6.55. 

“Economists note, however, that today’s $7.25-an-hour minimum wage represents the buying power of $6 an hour in 2009, considering that the cost of living has risen 18 percent since then,” according to an article written by Lisa Tang from the Palestine Herald-Press on January 10, 2020.

The wage of $7.25 does not have the same value in 2020 as it did in 2009.

There are companies and businesses that already pay above $7.25, such as McDonald’s which starts at $8.25. McDonald’s manager Megan Colon believes it should go up. 

“Raising minimum wage is obviously going to raise taxes and it’s going to raise gas prices, it’s going to raise everything about it, so I think it might raise our prices a little bit,” said Colon.

Minimum wage affects small businesses a little differently than large corporations. For Slice of Pie that just opened several months ago, manager Eyad Alrabbat said that raising minimum wage above $9 would put them out of business. They start their employees’ wages at $8-$9 depending on the position.

At Los Mochis, positions like dishwashers start at $8 while servers start at $2.15 an hour and keep all their tips. Olga Lopez Salas, manager of Los Mochis, said that three-fourths of the employees are students. 

“There is no problem with raising [minimum wage], I would think that raising $1-$1.50 would be pretty much fine because I mean to get minimum wage you just need basic skills. You don’t need the skills that a college kid is going to school for,” Salas said.

However, she said that raising the minimum wage to $15 would be outrageous and products would go up; even raising it to the Texas livable wage of $11.03 would affect them.

“It would affect us because we’d definitely have to go up in prices, each plate wouldn’t be what it is now… a lot of people aren’t gonna wanna pay $13 for enchiladas,” Salas said.

On the receiving end of minimum wage, many students felt it would be beneficial to raise it. 

Freshman student Javion Lynch, who works seasonally at Starbucks, said “I believe that the minimum wage should be raised based on like my working conditions, I feel like you do so much behind the scenes that people don’t see that we should, we deserve to be paid more.”

On the other hand, junior student Tyler Tonko said that there should not be a minimum wage at all and for people to know what the value of their labor is when going into a profession.

“If you raise the minimum wage, it decreases the amount of people you can hire because the pool and the profits that you keep that companies have still stay the same,” Tonko said. “That means that less people are going to be hired and that would mean that less services would be available, and on top of that people can’t sell their labor at the price they want.”

While the Texas state legislature may not be raising minimum wage anytime soon, Lester McKenzie who is the Interim Director of Financial Aid and Consultant for TAMUC, said financial aid is looking to raise the minimum pay for work study.

“We are running a study this year, we’re looking at some positions if not all positions to raise the minimum pay for federal work study and you know we’re looking at like $12 an hour you know because at $7.25 students aren’t attracted to that position because they can go work at somewhere else… and make more than $7.25 an hour,” McKenzie said. “But work study has additional benefits and that’s really the only program that is affected by minimum wage.”

Around 60% of TAMUC students receive federal aid and as high as 86% of A&M students rely on some form of financial aid that includes scholarships, athletic aid, state grants and loans, and the federal loan programs.

“The work study is limited to like $400,000. So, if we start raising rates of pay too high then we get into a situation where we’re being able to affect less students than if we kept it below. Does it need to be at $7.25? Absolutely not,” McKenzie said.