In class this past week, we learned about interest groups and their role in the government. I decided to incorporate that into my discussion on minimum wage for this post by defining what an interest group is and outline current interest groups involved with the minimum wage debate.
Interest groups can be known by other names such as factions, pressure groups, special interests, or organized interests. Their primary service is to connect citizens with the government and allow public interest be heard directly to the officials in power or attempting to gain power through election. Any organization that actively seeks to influence public policy is classified as an interest group, and they concentrate solely on policies that directly affect the groups/members interests.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is composed of primarily businesses, such as Ben and Jerry’s, Costco, Dansko Footwear, and Zingerman’s. There are also smaller businesses such as family farms that are members. The goal of this group is to see a $12 minimum wage by 2020, and then adjust yearly at the same increasing rate as the median hourly wage. Not only would this restore the lost value of minimum wage, the annual increases would reduce future erosion in value, and stabilize and predict future increases, making it easier for businesses to plan and absorb higher wages with less consequences.
The logic behind the stance is that the workers are also customers. The customers can then spend more with more money in their pockets, which would increase sales. More sales mean more employees. Happier employees means less employee turnover, which in turn would increase productivity, quality of goods, and customer satisfaction, which then leads to more sales. This would create a profitable circle for business that makes sense.
American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
AFL-CIO represents “people who work” and is works closely with unions to achieve goals. While the group doesn’t express an exact goal, it states that there is a need to increase minimum wage. The group’s website posts a lot of supporting data though. For example, if minimum wage had been adjusted to match inflation, it would now be $10.75. However, if it increased at the same rate that productivity has increased since 1968, it would now be $18.67. There is also data posted that supports that boosting the minimum wage would help bridge the gap in gander-pay equality. The charts suggest that a minimum wage increase would benefit women the most. 55-60% of all affected by an increase would be women and 55-60% of the total people affected would be white. 85-90% of all affected are over the age of 20.
Employment Policies Institute (EPI)
EPI is a non-partisan research institute that focuses on employment growth, and in particular issues that affect entry-level employment. Currently, EPI is opposed to increasing the minimum wage.
National Restaurant Association
The National Restaurant Association is a food service trade association that targets financial and regulatory obstacles for its members. The group currently opposes a minimum wage increase.
National Employment Law Project (NELP)
NELP’s goal is stated to “rebuild the wage floor for low-wage workers in the U.S.” This group is currently working towards increasing the minimum wage.
All of these groups have websites online to be able to learn more and find supporting data. In order to get a good understanding of all sides an issue, it would be beneficial to research all the interest groups as well. Each group might present data in a way that supports its stance, but looking at both sides will give you a better view of the issue and help you make an informed decision.