WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Family Friendly Iowa, a coalition formed by Progress Iowa and the Service Employees International Union, hosted a small-business roundtable in West Des Moines this week to draw attention to what it believes are three main issues that impact Iowa’s working families: affordable child care, quality long-term care and raising the state minimum wage.
SEIU Iowa president Cathy Glasson said the minimum wage is at the top of their list.
“People can’t survive on $7.25 an hour,” she said. “So, we’re having a conversation with Iowa voters about what that means, and why we need to raise the minimum wage – to lift up middle-class families so that they have more money in their pockets – and then they can spend it in the local economy.”
According to Family Friendly Iowa, policies that help build strong families lead to a growing economy.
Of all the key issues, state Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids, said she thinks increasing Iowa’s minimum wage has the best chance of passage this legislative session.
“We’re having this groundswell at the county level of people having the conversation and actually having a county pass a minimum-wage increase,” she said. “We have other states nearby us who are also raising the minimum wage, so I think the buzz is really much higher on the minimum-wage issue.”
Johnson County already has raised its minimum wage, and other Iowa counties are discussing the topic.
Glasson said business owners at the roundtable meeting discussed how paying their employees more than the minimum could lead to a stronger workforce.
“They want to pay their employees more, and they do actually go beyond the current minimum wage,” she said, “because they know that those employees are invested in their employment, they stay at work longer, they commit to that employer longer; there’s less turnover.”
Family Friendly Iowa said it determined its priority issues after conducting a series of focus groups in the state.