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Backlash against possible minimum wage increase

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Posted at 3:37 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 07:01:02-04
They are preparing for the lunch crowd and workers are rolling in dough here at Brick Oven Pizza in Fells Point, but not like they would be if the minimum wage jumped to $15 an hour as some city leaders envision.
 
"I'd have to look at the options of possibly laying somebody off,” owner Mike Beckner said. “Some of our employees now collect overtime and that would definitely be cut."
 
Across the street at Max's Taphouse, they also fear the proposed city-imposed wage hike would tap out local businesses.
 
"The small business owner, the mom and pops---it's going to come out of their pockets,” said Bob Simko, the food and beverage manager, “It's sure you could offset some of that through price increases, but for the most part it's just going to kill the small businesses."
 
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke says she's pushing the wage hike for the estimated 80,000 minimum wage earners in Baltimore to narrow the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.
 
 
"This is a proposal that says in 2020, we will work ourselves up to $15 an hour,” Clarke said. “This is about closing the financial gap that continues to keep us separate here in Baltimore City."
 
Under the proposed increase, tipped workers would incrementally reach the $15 an hour mark four years later, eliminating the need to rely on a patron's generosity to make a living.
 
She's talked to wage advocates and groups proposing similar measures, but she has yet to talk with those who would have to pay for it.
 
"I'm looking forward to meeting with business owners now that we have the numbers... now that we have the proposal," said Clarke.
 
"Nobody's come down to street level and said, 'Hey, how's this going to affect you?  How's this going to affect the owners?  How's this going to effect the payroll?  The taxes?” Simko said. “Not a peep."
 

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