Minimum wage and the Shark Tank show


Forty-two cents per hour – that’s how much Vermont’s minimum wage increased as of January first. The minimum wage is now $9.15 per hour, up from $8.73. And tipped workers now will be paid $4.58, a thirty-five-cent-per-hour increase.

Vermont legislators worked very hard to start this minimum change that will inch the hourly minimum to $10.50 by 2018. Nationally since the recession 58% of new jobs have been in low wage occupations where minimum wage sets the pay scale. Who are these workers? The median age of a low-wage worker has risen to 34.9. And 88% are adults over the age of twenty, 56% are women, nearly half are workers of color, and over 43% have some college education.

Estimates suggest that the changes will affect about 30,000 people in Vermont. For now every little bit helps – but this is only $3.36 more per eight-hour shift, and less than $20.00 for a 40-hour week.

So who out of Vermont’s thirty thousand struggling minimum wage earners did WCAX news find to interview? Well no one. But they did seek out someone who complained about it. Karen Zecchinelli, owner of the Wayside Restaurant in Berlin, said

“I don’t like the state coming in and telling me what I should be doing in my business. It’s not good for business,”

She didn’t specify how much, but says she pays her employees a “fair and livable” wage.WCAX news didn’t speak to any Wayside employees. Zecchinelli  is a big financial supporter of Lt. Governor Phil Scott and has held fundraisers for him in the past.

Scott has often expressed doubts about Vermont’s minimum-wage impact on business, and complaints of that sort will likely feature prominently at an upcoming event. In an un-characteristic burst of post-election energy the Lt. Governor is holding an economic “pitch session” at the Capitol Plaza.

“Priority # 1 on Day One (a name right out of the Douglas administration if ever there was one) is described as a cross between a “shark tank show “ and speed dating. It will feature only business people – but business people of all stripes, he says. He hopes the gathering will “set the right tone” to kick off the legislative session. A monotone?

Since Phil Scott’s group pitch is coming  exclusively from business you can expect the ideas will run the gamut – one that goes all the way from A to B.

What is the sound of one group pitching?

At Phil Scott’s Priority #1 Day One, the following “diverse” groups will attend to help “set the tone” for the legislative session:

Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce

Vermont Technology Alliance

Vermont Retail and Grocers’ Association

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

Associated Industries of Vermont

Vermont Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

FreshTracks Capital

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Associated General Contractors

Vermont Ski Areas Association

Vermont Association of Realtors

The two groups highlighted already gave heavily to Phil Scott’s most recent campaign.

How many will make donations to Scott’s next campaign fund after the pitching at his “shark-tank”session remains to be seen.

5 thoughts on “Minimum wage and the Shark Tank show

  1. So, we can assume Ms. Zecchinelli pays her staff a minimum of $16.00 per hour?

    If so, why would it not be “good for (her) business” to insist that her competitors pay a higher minimum wage? Seems to me that might level the playing field somewhat, if she truly is paying a “fair and livable wage.”

    Sometimes I can’t believe the words that roll of out of people’s mouths.

    The state dictates minimum health standards for dining establishments.  Is that also bad for business?

  2. This will be an increase of $840 a year for someone with a 2000 hour working year. Not nearly enough, but almost a monthly rent payment. Or maybe a tank of heating oil.

    Businesses selling necessities should rejoice, though. Multiplied by 30,000 that’s just over $25 million a year being pumped into that sector.

    Every extra dollar per hour we put in the hands of that 30,000 is $60 million a year in new spending. You’d think Vermont businesses would like that. Some of those 30,000 might actually have enough money to have a meal at the Wayside now and then.

    I am reminded of a Ted Rall cartoon where someone asks a business owner what his recession-era strategy is. He replies, “I’m hoping that my competitors pay their employees enough that they can afford my products.”

  3. the ruckus is about. MW is raised incrementally on a continual basis along w/everything else including all costs & prices at least for the most part. Isn’t this also based upon some sort of index?

    A rise in prices generally accompanies this — if one restaurant is paying more they all will be, so prices will rise across the board.

    Those who frequent these businesses are using disposable income which admittedly is also shrinking .

    There may be a legitimate concern of declining revenue if prices are too high but we need to aid those who make the least maintain wage levels since yes afi, still it’s extremely weak. Plus the service industry typically pays less.

    For a two person income which many minimum wage earners are it’s still small esp for families w/children even if eligible for public aid.


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