Sub Visual



Sarah R. Bratko, Esq. 

Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel

401-223-1120, ext. 115


PROVIDENCE — House lawmakers on Tuesday heard arguments for and against a bill that would raise Rhode Island’s minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016 and then tie it to inflation starting in 2017.

Testifying before the House Labor Committee, organized labor and other supporters argued that the proposal would provide an economic boost to the state, which has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 9.1 percent as of December.

“If you put more money in people’s pockets, they spend, which is good for the economy,” said state Rep. David Bennett, a Warwick Democrat who introduced the proposal.

But opponents, including business groups and a tea party activist, said another increase in the minimum wage would hurt local companies and job seekers with the least experience or work skills.

“The higher the minimum wage goes, the harder it is going to be to hire people into the industry and let them move up the ladder,” said Lenette Boisselle, representing the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, an organization for hotels and restaurants. “We wish we could say go to $20 [an hour], but the reality is, you just can’t hire people in that environment.”

If approved, Bennett’s proposal would represent the third consecutive year state lawmakers have increased the minimum wage.

Rhode Island’s minimum wage rose from $7.40 an hour to $7.75 in 2013, then to $8 an hour this Jan. 1.

Bennett’s proposal calls for the wage to rise to $9 an hour by 2015, then to $10 an hour in 2016. It would be tied to inflation starting in 2017.

A separate bill, also heard Tuesday, would increase the wage to $9 an hour next year. That was introduced by state Rep. James McLaughlin, D-Cumberland. (Both bills were held for further study.)

At Tuesday’s hearing, Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George Nee noted that other states are poised to enact higher minimum wages.

Connecticut, for example, will raise its wage to $9 an hour next year. President Obama has also called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which is the lowest wage that states can enact, to $9 an hour and automatically adjust it with inflation. (It is currently $7.25).

“There’s been a tremendous amount of talk in our country about income inequality,” Nee said. “You’re in a very unique position: instead of talking about it, you in this legislature have an opportunity to do something about it.”

But state Rep. Antonio Giarrusso, R-East Greenwich, wondered if there was a connection between states with high unemployment and those with high minimum wages.

“Last year, we were ranked number 49 in unemployment. We raised the minimum wage, and now we’re 50,” he said

Nee countered: “We’ve only had a minimum wage increase for about three weeks. So I don’t think you can correlate that.”

The AFL-CIO, which is an umbrella group for local labor unions, said Bennett’s proposal would directly affect about 65,000 workers. It would also raise worker pay by about $84 a week and add more than $77.7 million to the state’s gross domestic product, the union said.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, said in its written testimony that it has not taken a position on McLaughlin’s proposal of a $9-an-hour minimum wage, nor Bennett’s proposal for a $10 wage by 2016.

But the state’s largest business group said it was opposed to tying the minimum wage to inflation, as Bennett proposes.

The Rhode Island chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, in its written testimony, argued the state’s current wage gives it a “competitive advantage” over its neighbors.

Source: PHILIP MARCELO; Providence Journal<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

List of Articles
No. Subject Author Date
31 Hotel industry presses for passage of terrorism insurance file Monika Nov 07, 2014
RIHA Signs on to Letter on TRIA The letter proved to be quite timely, as it was sent to the Hill on the same day the Speaker of the House was reported to be leaning toward a short-term extension of TRIA, which would obviously not be an ideal...  
30 2014 Legislative Wrap Up & Legislative Score Card file Monika Jul 03, 2014
This year’s legislative session was a busy one with over 400 pieces of legislation that affected the hospitality industry. Inevitably in politics the odds are against you that you’ll be 100% successful in getting everything you want. However...  
29 It's time for the US Senate to stop Patent Abuse file Monika May 21, 2014
This week RIHA signed on to a letter to Senator Reed and Senator Whitehouse urging immediate action on comprehensive patent reform. This issue has gained momentum this year as the public spotlight focused on the unfairness and inequity of p...  
28 Local Minimum Wage Battles Fought Around the Country Monika May 14, 2014
As you know, Providence City Council is currently deliberating an increase to $15 per hour for hotel workers. RIHA is actively developing a strategy to fight this effort as if it is successful, the continued viability of Providence hotels i...  
27 New information-reporting rules under the Affordable Care Act file Monika Mar 10, 2014
From   New information-reporting rules for many businesses and their insurers are on their way under the Affordable Care Act -- and with less than 10 months to go before data-tracking is supposed to get underway, the impact o...  
26 Meeting with Senator Jack Reed file Monika Feb 28, 2014
This week RIHA hosted Senator Jack Reed at Chelo’s Waterfront Grille in Warwick. As always, our board members were highly attuned to the concerns of the hospitality industry and posed a number of intelligent questions to the Senator. The Se...  
25 National Grid seeks 16 percent natural gas rate hike for RI file Monika Feb 28, 2014
By ALEX KUFFNERALEX KUFFNERProvidence Journal Journal Staff Writer   PROVIDENCE, R.I. — National Grid has applied to state regulators to raise natural gas rates in Rhode Island by 16 percent, an increase that w...  
24 I-9 Forms – are you in compliance? Monika Feb 21, 2014
The owners of the Black and Blue Restaurant of Rochester, New York started this New Year by handing $88,700 over to the feds.  Their crime?  Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) accused the restaurant of failing to prepare I-9 forms f...  
23 National Restaurant Association Urges House Ways and Means Committee to Move Forward on Definition of Full-Time Legislation file Monika Feb 05, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 4, 2014 CONTACT: Katie Laning Niebaum (202) 973-3967 or Christin Fernandez (202) 331-5939 National Restaurant Association Urges House Ways and Means Committee...  
22 Congressional Budget on Obamacare file Monika Feb 05, 2014
THE CBO REPORT THAT BLEW UP THE INTERNET - Twitter exploded yesterday following the release of the Congressional Budget Office report claiming that the Affordable Care Act will likely cause "a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent w...  
» Arguements for and against raising Rhode Island Minimum Wage file Monika Feb 05, 2014
PROVIDENCE — House lawmakers on Tuesday heard arguments for and against a bill that would raise Rhode Island’s minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016 and then tie it to inflation starting in 2017. Testifying before the House Labor Committee, o...  
20 RIHA Testifies- Genetically Modified Organisms to be labeled file Monika Jan 31, 2014
RIHA testifies on H 7093- This bill would require that food and food products derived from or containing genetically modified organisms be labeled as such by the manufacturer, retailer or other person before putting it on the market for sal...  
19 Plastic Bag Ban Bill Introduced Again file Monika Jan 31, 2014
Efforts to make Rhode Island the first state with a bag ban recently took a step forward. For the second straight year, Rep. Maria Cimini, D-Providence, has sponsored the Plastic Waste Reduction Act, a bill that would ban retailers from off...  
18 Survey from the Governor's Office file Monika Jan 31, 2014
Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey to insure that we have input from our industry . Dear Business Leader: Please find attached a letter asking for your input on state regulations that may be a burden on your business. To faci...  
17 Candidate Taveras Calls for Increase in Minimum Wage- others join in file Monika Jan 31, 2014
The race for Rhode Island governor turned into something of a race t o be the champion of the minimum-wage increase Thursday among leading Democratic contenders. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, a Democratic candidate for governor, proposed T...  
16 Probation & Parole offices downtown Providence file Monika Jan 10, 2014
Director Richard A. Licht of the state Department of Administration said that the department will seek fresh proposals to relocate the Office of Probation and Parole rather than move it to a downtown site at 40 Fountain St.   RI Hospitality ...  
15 RI - Labor to lobby for higher minimum wage in R.I. Monika Jan 10, 2014
Rhode Island's minimum wage rose to $8 an hour on Wednesday, but organized labor says it will call on  lawmakers to raise it even higher in the legislative session that opens Tuesday. George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, said h...  
14 Hospitality - 2014 new legal obligations file Monika Jan 10, 2014
Tip-vs.-wage changes. On January 1, 2014 a new IRS rule took effect regarding automatically added gratuities.  It basically states that any gratuities added to guest checks (such as an 18% gratuity added for large parties) will no longer be ...  
13 RI fast food workers fight for $15 file Monika Nov 22, 2013
  A direct action inside a Wendy's in Warwick today was Rhode Island's first in the nationwide Fight For 15 effort to unionize fast food workers. But it won't be the last, organizers said. Expect more local protests and more fast food worke...  
12 Senate OKs $11-Per Hour Minimum Wag Bill- MASSACHUSETTS Monika Nov 22, 2013
BOSTON -- The Senate voted 32-7 on Tuesday to increase the state's minimum wage by $3 over the next three years to $11 an hour, approving legislation that would give Massachusetts the highest minimum wage in the country. Massachusetts curren...