Sussex GOP

Employees in the first state are one step closer to making a minimum of $15 an hour. Senate Bill 15 passed the Delaware Senate Thursday, but not one senator in Sussex County voted for it.

LEWES/REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – Employees in the first state are one step closer to making a minimum of $15 an hour. Senate Bill 15 passed the Delaware Senate Thursday, but not one senator in Sussex County voted for it.

The Delaware Department of Labor says 35,000 employees in Delaware are earning the state’s minimum wage of $9.25 an hour, which was set in 2019. Bill sponsors say that isn’t enough to keep up with the cost of living or for Delaware to stay competitive with the minimum wage in other states.

SB 15 would increase Delaware’s base hourly wage over four years:

$10.50 In 2022.
$11.75 In 2023.
$13.25 In 2024.
And $15.00 in 2025.

The Station on Kings manager Bella Leishear says the current wage rate isn’t enough for back of house employees, like dishwashers, who don’t get tips, but raising the rate comes at a cost to businesses.

“From a business owner perspective, I understand, it’s hard enough to be able to provide that for their employees and to keep their business running,” Leishear says.

Dos Locos Bartender Manager Manny Tejeda says the minimum wage hike is critical for bar and restaurant employees.
“The sooner the better,” Tejeda says. “Minimum wage for salary should be $15 because with the inflation of the economy, it’s needed.”
In the last couple of months, other beach town bartenders have told WRDE that a $15 minimum wage could make customers think they’re making more money and cause them to tip less. They’ve also said that restaurants would have to raise their prices in order to pay them more.
Senator Ernie Lopez says during a pandemic is not the time to increase business expenses,
“Just the idea that government needs to step in and mandate our small businesses and pay someone at an arbitrary level is wrong,” Senator Lopez says. “It really is up to our employers, which they have done over the years to keep our economic viability strong in the Cape region.”
Bill advocates say SB 15 proposes a gradual increase to give small businesses time to recover and that businesses and employees need it now more than ever to recover from the pandemic.
“They were doing everything they could in the pandemic to keep our economy going and they have continued to earn a wage that does not account for the cost of housing, the cost of medicine, the cost of childcare,” says Senator Kyle Evans Gay.
SB 15 now heads to the House for its committee hearing.

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