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Local Chamber of Commerce opposes living wage: Not with our money

virginia general assembly
Photo Credit: traveler1116/iStock Photo

The Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce wants its members to oppose a proposed minimum-wage increase.

It’s not going to use our money to do so.

A Virginia House subcommittee is considering legislation introduced by Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton, that would push the current $7.25-per-hour minimum wage to $9 per hour on July 1, 2020, with step increases concluding at $15 per hour effective July 1, 2023.

The local Chamber of Commerce, parroting the gloom and doom from the big-business sector that has workers in Virginia stuck in a right-to-work hell with nothing in the way of workplace rights, isn’t having it.

The Chamber sent a note to members this morning urging them to fill out a form letter to send to their delegates.

The idea, communicating false outrage by filling out a form letter, is dumb enough, but then the form letter itself is misleading, most notably with a nonsense claim that “the percentage of employees whom are currently paid at or below the minimum wage is small,” which, seriously?

Below the minimum wage?

Just dumb.

And then, the idea that the number of people impacted by the proposed legislation is small.

Analysis from The Commonwealth Institute indicates that the proposed increase would impact 1.27 million Virginia workers, including 774,000 who currently make less than $15 an hour in full-time jobs.

We’re talking 28.4 percent of the labor force here.

Not small.

That’s more than one in four.

More from this nonsense form letter:

“This will lead to increased automation in some sectors, downsizing, business migration to surrounding states, and higher prices for the goods and services we all consume.”

Boogieman, boogieman, boogieman, boogieman.

Notes to Chamber types: increased automation is a decades-long trend, downsizing is more likely because of consolidations and mergers than it is because of living wages, low-wage jobs in retail and service sectors ain’t migrating to other states, inflation is real, and eternal.

Odd timing thing for us: we’d just decided, after a good bit of internal debate, to renew our membership with the local Chamber of Commerce.

The internal debate focused on us thinking there wasn’t much in terms of value from being members, because it’s not like this Chamber of Commerce does much of anything, but, whatever.

Needless to say, we don’t want this kind of nonsense done in our names, so we’ve requested a refund on that check that we’d just sent in.

Some unsolicited advice to conclude: maybe ask first.

Story by Chris Graham

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