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$15 minimum wage won’t work here

First, I want to thank all who braved the cold, taking their time to come to Richmond last Monday.

All should respect your commitment to our Constitution. However, Governor Northam and his party ignored them, and, in some cases, mocked them and have continued their assault on those Virginians that want to protect their families.

After winning those battles, they are moving on to attack the values of conservatives across Virginia.

ISSUES OF LIFE

Bills are moving through both the Senate and House that would eliminate those laws that have been put in place that encouraged pregnant women to think about the life they are considering destroying before they abort their child. No one has been prevented from receiving abortion services, they simply have been encouraged to think about the life they are destroying before they do so.

Last year, Governor Northam and some Delegates created a firestorm for proposed legislation that would have allowed a mother to abort her child up to the point of delivery. Most believe this is unacceptable. While we may disagree on when life begins and the morality of abortion, few believe that abortion services should be sought at the end of the pregnancy rather than months earlier.

RIGHT-TO-WORK

Wisely, the Governor early on assured us that he would not sign legislation that would end the “right-to-work” policy in Virginia. He did this because the business world was adamantly opposed to any change. He understood that this would undermine our efforts to attract new jobs to Virginia and probably give businesses a reason to move jobs out of the state.

Instead, those in his party have crafted legislative proposals that would simply gut that policy. One is called “Fair Share.” This bill would not require you to join a union to get a job in a unionized company, but it would force you to pay dues to the union for their political activities that you might not agree with. Other bills would require certain construction projects to be bid based on union wage scales. This would drive up construction projects that are financed by your tax dollars.

MINIMUM WAGE

I would start by stating that I want to see workers making as much as possible, however, their value to a business must merit their wages. There are several bills offered this year that will require all employers to pay a $15 minimum hourly wage. I believe an employees’ value to a business should be what sets the price, not government edict. All this type legislation does is drive up inflation. Everything you buy, every service you need, will cost you more if and when this passes. Even now, businesses are raising wages in order to get and keep employees. With unemployment at 2.6%, many employers are finding they must pay more than now required. That is as it should be.

Currently in Virginia, only 56,000 or 3.3% of workers earn the minimum wage. Of those, 58.6% are young workers between the ages of 16 to 25. Where do these workers generally work? This does not take into consideration such things as tips nor other benefits such as insurance, bonuses, etc. What these bills will do is eliminate first jobs in which young people learn work skills. Additionally, it will encourage employers to have current employees work overtime or employers to use more automation. We are currently seeing more restaurants and retailers using self-service machines to place and pay for orders, reducing the need for some cashiers.

Not only are young workers harmed, also seniors that want to come back into the job market to get out of the house. They are often found working for nonprofits that serve our communities. The giant retailers won’t be harmed because they have driven many small businesses out and can set prices. They can add a few cents to the cost of every item. Small mom and pop businesses do not have that opportunity. Their margins of profit are far less. They will be forced to reduce costs by reducing operating hours of service or working more themselves or closing the business completely.

Those in Northern Virginia do not understand the economics of rural small-town Virginia.

Frank Ruff Jr. represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.