January 29, 2007
The state and federal government are addressing the issue of minimum wage, but neither are guaranteed to pass. Even if they do, some people question if it is enough.
They are looking to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour, but in Charlottesville some say people need a lot more than that to live.
The minimum wage debate continues at both the federal and state level, but many Charlottesville residents set their sights higher.
Last spring a group of UVa students protested that university employees need to make the living wage. The dollar figure they calculated was $10.72.
More listened than just the school. In fact the governing body of a local church endorsed this campaign several years early and sticks by its decision.
"It's to be concerned about the least and the last and the lost and because of that it felt that this group of people was asking us to once again go back to something that's very much apart of the gospel as we have understood it," said Rev. Jim Baker of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Westminster Presbyterian Church starts employees at $12.00 an hour with benefits. In fact the church Sexton said the pay is the reason he started working there.
"I started here six years ago. The pay was great and benefits were good and the people were very nice to you here. It's just a real pleasant place to work," said Richard Gibson, church employee.
Political experts don't see this trend being enforced by the government anytime soon
"The chance that say the state minimum wage or the federal minimum wage would be as high as where Charlottesville or other localities have set their living wage is incredibly remote. That would have to be a long-term project," said Sean O'Brien from UVa's Sorensen Institute.
Local Delegate David Toscano is lending his name to a state bill that would increase the minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage has been unchanged for 10 years.