Minimum-wage hikes spur operator action

Minimum-wage hikes spur operator action

SUTHERLIN Ore. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Like industry members in nine other states and at least two cities where the minimum wage is indexed to inflation, Pedotti is facing a substantial increase in labor costs at a time when sales are slipping away. Still, observers say, the chances of finding relief are slim since voters would be unlikely to take away wages during a time of economic duress. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

“When things are good, I can understand it, I can do it, but right now we’re in a recession,” said Pedotti, who with his wife, Renie, owns Pedotti’s Italian Restaurant here in southern Oregon. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Oregon’s hourly minimum wage is set to jump 45 cents to $8.40 per hour in January. The state’s minimum wage, which is tied to the inflation rate, has risen every year since voters first approved the measure in 2002. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

The Oregon Restaurant Association is working on gathering support for a bill to put a temporary hold on the increase or make exceptions for an increase in difficult economic times, said Bill Perry, the ORA’s director of government relations. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

While the increase has usually been around 3 percent, this latest hike is a 5.6-percent adjustment, the highest it has ever been, Perry said. The state’s unemployment rate reached a four-year high of 7.3 percent in October. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

“With the economy being down and unemployment on the rise, it’s a pretty negative effect,” Perry said. “[Restaurants] are having a hard time doing job creation when they have to budget for the minimum wage.” —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Oregon will have a tough uphill battle to get a moratorium or change in the minimum wage law, said industry observers and others who have tried to do the same thing. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

“We attempted to run a ballot measure that would strip the CPI [consumer price index] out of the current law and decided not to do it when we learned the electorate would likely oppose it,” said Steve Chucri, president and chief executive of the Arizona Restaurant Association. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Despite growing objections from businesses, the city of Santa Fe will raise the minimum wage by 42 cents to $9.92 an hour, an increase of nearly 4.5 percent. Last year the city approved an amendment to adjust the minimum wage annually to match the previous year’s increase, if any, in the CPI for urban wage earners and clerical workers in the Western region of the United States. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Santa Fe’s wage is higher than New Mexico’s, which is not tied to the CPI. The state’s minimum wage will increase by $1 to $7.50 an hour in January. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

While 26 states have minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage, most of them are not that much higher, noted Tim Ehlert, manager of state relations for the National Restaurant Association [3]. The federal rate of $6.55 will increase to $7.25 in July. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

The laws are difficult to change in states where the wage is tied to inflation rates, he said. “Many of them were passed by initiatives that do not allow a change in the law unless backed by voters,” he said. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Colorado, however, may have a better legal argument for a change, he said. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Colorado’s minimum wage law, approved in 2006, ties wage increases to the state’s inflation rate, but the data that is used is based on a consumer price index for the state’s most populous region, the Denver-Boulder-Greeley CPI. A group of rural restaurateurs filed a lawsuit this summer against Gov. Bill Ritter challenging the wage increase as unconstitutional. The group’s attorney filed a motion in December seeking an injunction to stop the governor from enforcing the increase in January until the case is heard in court. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

The suit argues that using a CPI that does not include rural areas is unfair and puts a hardship on businesses. According to the suit, the plaintiffs have had to raise prices, decrease staff hours, terminate workers and reduce or eliminate employee benefits. Colorado’s minimum wage is set to rise 3.7 percent in January to $7.28 per hour. The cash wage for tipped employees will be $4.26 an hour. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

Representatives from the Colorado Restaurant Association [4] also testified against using the Denver-Boulder-Greeley CPI at a November hearing of the state’s Division of Labor Standards. —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.

“We feel it’s important to our members and future members to contest this,” said Pete Meersman, president and chief executive of the CRA. “It’s ironic that the minimum wage is going up 3.7 percent at a time when the economy is in the tank.” —Restaurateur Dave Pedotti, who has laid off one employee and cut workers’ hours to try to control labor costs, has been talking to every Oregon legislator who will listen to him in hopes of getting some relief from the minimum-wage increase set to go into effect in January.