Local workers weigh in on the minimum wage war

Local workers weigh in on the minimum wage war

President Obama lit up the minimum wage debate Tuesday night, during his State of the Union speech.

He is pushing Congress for an increase to $10 an hour.

19 Action News spoke with two local restaurant owners to get their thoughts on the minimum wage debate and their answers might surprise you.

Restaurants are typically places with a lot of minimum wage workers but at Joe's Deli in Rocky River, many employees make much more.

"Really they're worth their pay. If they're a good employee and he's dependable and he does what you want, he's worth every penny," said Jeannette Kanaan.

Kanaan has been in the restaurant business for more than 35 years.

Joe's is a family owned place with longtime, loyal employees.

"When someone is making good pay, they're going to stay with you," Kanaan said.

Even her head chef, who makes significantly more than minimum wage, knows a mandatory increase in the federal minimum wage could impact some local businesses.

"I would like to see it go up a little bit, but in the end it would definitely hurt the small business owner," said chef Ken Hawk.

"If they're decent here, they've been here six months, I'm paying them $10 an hour anyway. If you got somebody good, you want to keep them," Tom Kess of Angelo's Pizza said.

At Angelo's Pizza in Lakewood, there are about 30 employees who make minimum wage.

Owner Tom Kess often pays more than minimum wage. He says he'd like to see a sliding wage scale.

"After 90 days, you could put them up to nine bucks an hour. After six months, put 'em up to $10 an hour. So I think they should stagger the minimum wage," Kess said.

President Obama is proposing a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage over the next three years to $10.10.

But, he'll have to convince Congress to go along with his plan.

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