Fight for $50,000 per year, not $15 per hour, says business organization CEO

Twenty-one states nationwide are increasing the minimum wage for their lowest paid workers this year, and efforts for more cities and states to do the same is gaining traction.

After getting a big push from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) during the 2016 presidential campaign, Democrats adopted the rallying cry to raise the minimum wage.

But one business organization believes calls to lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a "misguided mandate" that will hurt small business.

“Instead of fighting to raise the floor we should be fighting to raise the ceilings of these folks that are in these entry-level jobs," said Alfredo Ortiz, President and CEO of Job Creators Network.

Ortiz says the "Fight for Fifty" campaign will help low-wage workers get the job training skills they need to apply for jobs that will pay $50,000 per year. He believes the private sector and government need to work together to fix the skills gap in the U.S. in order to help the lowest-paid workers.

“These jobs were never intended to feed families of four. The HVAC technicians jobs, plumbers, the manufacturing sales reps, these are the jobs that create careers and help families out, not raising minimum wages," he said.

Michael Thompson, is part of the "Fight for $15" movement. Thompson a homecare worker in Washington D.C., said his profession already requires him to have a specific set of skills necessary to do his job and he is struggling to make ends meet.

“That's why we’re fighting we’re fighting for $15," said Thompson.

The federal minimum wage has not been lifted since 2009, and remains at $7.25. It is unlikely that a Republican-majority Congress will raise the federal minimum wage anytime soon. As a result, state and local governments are beginning to work on legislation to implement a higher minimum wage.

"We certainly haven’t had a pay raise in a very long time," said U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX.) He believes lawmakers should be open to the idea of raising the minimum wage at the federal level but argues raising wages on a regional basis is a step in the right direction.

"Living in New York City is very different than living in South Texas where I'm from," said Rep. Gonzalez

Rep. Gonzalez also said that is it important for American workers to have better training and more education.

“When you’re talking about the minimum wage you’re also talking about unskilled labor, and Whether you’re skilled or not you still need to live, and even an unskilled labor needs to have a minimum dignified life. They need to eat every day, they need to pay their rent, take care of their children.”

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