They'd rather keep their hours and tips.
As Seattle's minimum hourly wage increases—eventually set to hit the $15 mark—at least one study has unveiled a troubling side-effect: while workers are keeping their jobs, they are losing their hours—which means their wages are really reducing. This is in contrast to a previous study that said the minimum wage hike hadn't curbed job growth.
And as we watch the backlash unfold, there's one group of minimum-wage workers who are sitting smugly with their much lower wages, having crushed a referendum that would have boosted their hourly pay from $3.75 last year to $12 by 2024.
You read that right: last year, Maine residents voted to increase hourly workers' pay by about $8 over seven years. And rather than celebrate, a faction of minimum wage workers protested, asking the state to overturn the referendum. On June 22, Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed a new bill into law, lowering their hourly wages.
According to The Washington Post, protesters of the original bill—many of them restaurant workers—took to committee meetings in swarms, and more than 5,000 of them joined a Facebook group, Restaurant Workers of Maine, established to fight the wage increase.
Democratic state senator James Dill told the newspaper that he personally received hundreds of emails and phone calls from concerned servers. While he had originally voted to increase wages, their outcry encouraged him to change his vote, he said.
It's not that the workers are against earning more—in fact, it's quite the contrary. Even before the latest Seattle study showed that higher minimum wages can mean less overall pay, Maine's workers worried their hours would be cut—as they have been in Seattle—and that diners wouldn't be inclined to tip as much or as often.
"I realize not everyone is in the same boat," Dill told the newspaper. "But the ones who called me were saying, 'I make $20 to $25 per hour, I've bought a house with that income, I support my kids; it's really important you don't mess with my tips.'"
Opponents of increasing minimum-wages might now turn to Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C., where similar debates are underway.