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The Daily Tar Heel
View from the Hill

How feasible is a minimum wage increase in North Carolina?

Last month, fast-food workers in North Carolina joined in protests occurring across the country, demanding an increase in the minimum wage.

This week, the California Assembly passed a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $10 by January 2016, making it beat Washington State for the highest minimum wage.

North Carolina currently has a minimum wage of $7.25 a year, the same as the federal minimum wage.

While study by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed 61 percent of North Carolinians support increasing the minimum wage, it is highly unlikely there will be an increase given the current political conditions in the state.

In California, the state legislature has a sizable Democratic majority led by Governor Jerry Brown. A Pew Research poll showed that Democrats nationwide strongly support an increase to the minimum wage.

However, in North Carolina, Republicans in the legislature hold a veto-proof majority. The same Pew poll showed 50 percent of Republicans support an increase but 46 percent oppose the increase.

North Carolina also does not have a strong union organizing infrastructure. Since 1947, North Carolina has had “right to work laws” in place, meaning a person cannot be forced to join a union to be employed. Earlier this year, the legislature introduced a bill that would encode “right to work” into the state’s constitution.

Similarly, there is not much support for increasing the minimum wage in the state’s executive branch. In a 2012 questionnaire, N.C. Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry not only circled that she believed the minimum age should not be increased, she wrote in that it should be abolished.

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