Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Minimum-wage drive rolling: Backers want to put initiative on fall ballot

Backers of a proposed Ohio constitutional amendment to increase the state minimum wage have gathered half the 500,000 signatures they figure they’ll need to get on the fall ballot - they still have more than two months to gather the remaining signatures. Tim Burga, of the AFL-CIO and a leader of the minimum-wage coalition, said 322,899 valid signatures are needed to qualify for a Nov. 7 vote. He wants to have a cushion by collecting 500,000 names before the Aug. 9 deadline. The proposed amendment would mandate increasing the state minimum wage, now $5.15 an hour, to $6.85, with annual adjustments thereafter.

Opponents of the measure counter that the proposal is a public policy issue that has no place in the constitution, that pay is associated with the free market system. They also argue that the wage increase would force small business owners to fire employees.

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