U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, clocked in for her shift at Dave’s Autobody in at 2:59 p.m., one minute early.
As part of her “Cheri on Shift” outreach, Bustos made a stop in Galesburg Tuesday to shadow the shop’s auto workers and do some welding and discuss the issue of livable wages, an issue that’s been a source of discussion locally and nationally.
With Illinois’ minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, a full-time worker would earn a yearly salary of $16,500. For a family of three, the wage lies below the federal benchmark for poverty. That, Bustos said during her visit Tuesday, is something that needs to change.
The 17th Congressional District representative said she would be in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, an increase of $2.85. According to the proposal, upon passage the minimum wage would increase over 95 cents annually over the course of three years.
“In the district I represent, we border two other states — the western part of the district borders Iowa, where the minimum wage is less and the northern part borders Wisonsin where the minimum wage is less,” she said. “So we actually think this helps level the playing field to raise it to $10.10, and we think it’s better for businesses.”
Shop owner Dave Dunn, who serves on Bustos’ small business advisory council, said paying livable wages creates a better workplace culture.
“It’s just a matter of dignity, people deserve a living wage,” Dunn said. “Not only do we pay above minimum wage, the least anybody would make here is $10 an hour, and then we pay time-and-a-half for overtime and have terrific benefits.”
Bustos said by increasing the federal minimum wage, nearly 4.5 million Americans would move out of poverty.
“If you’re working full-time you shouldn’t be living in poverty, and the reality of it right now is if you’re being paid minimum wage and working 40 hours a week, you are living in poverty,” she said. “We just think it should be better than that.”
Dani Kinnison: (309) 343-7181, ext. 214; firstname.lastname@example.org; @drkinnison