TN mayor pushes for $15 minimum wage to help with rising cost of living

SHELBY COUNTY, Tennessee (WKRN) — The Shelby County mayor wants to see Tennessee more than double its minimum wage in the next legislative session.

Although a similar bill doesn’t make it out of the subcommittee in March, Mayor Lee Harris hopes the rising cost of daily consumer goods will convince state lawmakers to pass a $15 minimum wage. time.

Tennessee is one of about 20 states where the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is the standard.

“They’re facing higher gas prices, higher grocery costs, and they’re going through one of the most inflationary times we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” Harris said. “We can do something about it. The Tennessee General Assembly can do something about this.

However, even before the bill was introduced, Senate Leader Jack Johnson R-Franklin said he would oppose any effort to set a minimum wage for the state. Johnson said a minimum wage would hurt job creation and growth in the state.

Senator Marsha Blackburn echoed Johnson’s views in 2021 during a virtual roundtable with small business owners in Tennessee.

“A $15 minimum wage would destroy small businesses and job opportunities in our workforce“, said Blackburn. “Some politicians are trying to fit their radical agenda into the already huge spending bill.”

The Nashville restaurant group owner disagrees with Johnson and thinks $15 should be the bare minimum.

“It’s way overdue in my opinion,” said Tom Morales. “We haven’t hired anyone for less than $15 an hour in years.”

According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, a living wage for a Tennessean is $15.45 for a single person with no children.

“A fair base salary for a fair day’s work seems fair to me,” Mayor Harris said.

Morales explained that market pressures and shortages of workers in the restaurant industry have already forced many companies to raise wages. He said increasing wages can help reduce turnover and increase productivity.

“I challenge a legislator to live on $15 an hour,” he said.

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When asked where they stand on this issue, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce said, “The long standing position of the Chamber has been that the federal government sets the minimum wage.