PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With President Obama’s efforts to increase the minimum wage blocked by Republicans in Congress, some companies are acting on their own.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” Ron Clawson told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday.
Clawson, a Carlow University student who works at Gap’s Old Navy store at the Waterfront, says he didn’t believe it when he got a 17 percent pay raise this week.
But he’s grateful.
“We honestly do try our best to help with the customers, and I feel like Gap is appreciating us like seeing that more and helping us out by giving us more money,” he said.
While the federal and Pennsylvania minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 an hour, Gap — that owns Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta — has set a minimum of $9.00 an hour — and that’s not all.
“Next year in June — it’s great news — we’re actually going to $10, and I think that is a wonderful thing for our employees,” notes Christine Sabram, Old Navy manager.
Some 21 million workers in the USA make less than ten bucks an hour, but 65,000 Gap employees will not be among them.
Not to be beat, IKEA has just announced that on Jan. 1, its minimum will jump to $10.76 an hour.
Customers like this trend, and say if they know the stores that treat their workers better they would shop there more.
“Minimum wage definitely needs to go up with that, so sure I do… I do think I’d be more willing to shop in places like that,” says Jenny Meyer of Baldwin.
Gap rejects the argument that a higher minimum wage is bad for business.
“It’s actually increased the applicant pool for us,” says store manager Sabram.
While higher pay makes retailers like Gap a more popular place to work, some suspect consumer prices will jump.
Delano: “Are you raising prices here?”
Sabram: “No. We do not intend to raise prices.”