MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Increasing the minimum wage in West Virginia could have some unintended consequences on employers in the state, according to a Martinsburg attorney.

State lawmakers passed a bill recently raising the minimum wage by $1.50 over the next two years. If signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the minimum wage will go from $7.25 to $8.00 beginning Jan. 1, 2015 and increase to $8.75 in 2016.

Attorney Brian Peterson with the law firm Bowles Rice LLP said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday the bill also includes some definition changes that will impact overtime laws. He said the new state law would trump federal overtime exemptions that 80 percent of West Virginia employers currently fall under.

“The overtime exemptions that people in our state have been living under for many, many years are all going to be changed because the federal law doesn’t preempt the state law,” Peterson said.

If the governor signs the bill (HB 4283) those overtime changes would take effect June 6 for employers with more than six workers, even though the increase in the minimum wage won’t kick in until January.

Peterson said there are only 19 exemptions in the state’s overtime law but more than 50 in the federal law. He said changing the overtime laws would make state less competitive as it tries to recruit certain employers who offer high-tech jobs. He said computer-related jobs are exempt under the federal overtime rules but not the state rules, which haven’t been changed since 1982.

“These are very high paying jobs and those are the kind of jobs we want to attract to the state,” Peterson said. “But if they can’t have those folks exempt under our overtime rules then they might want to locate someplace else.”

Peterson also said the new overtime language would introduce a “new level of legal compliance” for employers. He said municipalities with professional fire departments would also be impacted. He said right now overtime doesn’t begin for those working 24-hour shifts for fire departments until the 54-hour worked during a particular week. He said the minimum wage bill would cause overtime to kick-in at the 41st hour or before the firefighter’s second shift is over.

“I don’t know how (municipalities) are going to handle that,” Peterson said.

Peterson did admit employers might be forced to cut back on the hours of full-time workers and hire more part-time employees to abide by the new overtime definition.

“It could have that effect, yes. That would be one way to avoid overtime—would be to hire more workers and that is a possibility,” he said.

Peterson works in the Bowles Rice Labor and Employment Group.

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  • Chris

    1.50 over a 2 year period is a freegin joke that helps no one should be much higher than that the Government is worthless. Putting it in there own pockets is all they are worried about i will never vote again it's useless.

  • Butch

    Oh look this hasn't changed the Cracker plants plans on coming to WV at all. Who knew? Industry coming to WV doesn't care about a $1.50 hike in the state minimum wage or overtime laws.

    • Aaron

      They couldn't get the workforce they need if they paid minimum wage so it's not a game changer unless you acquire the training needed to fill their positions. For someone who remains an unskilled laborer, this won't make a whole lot of difference.

      • Butch

        Exactly, it doesn't change the opportunity for good job opportunities in the State of WV one bit.

        This is a ploy by the Chamber to stop a bill they hate by pointing to something they could care less about prior to the bill signing.

  • ashanti

    turn up turn up

  • JimJim

    All very good points. The bottom line if you are between 20 and 35, Get out of West Virginia.

  • JimJim

    " state less competitive as it tries to recruit certain employers who offer high-tech jobs" High-tech jobs??? There are many reasons that high-tech jobs don't come to West Virginia, minimum wage is way down the list.

    • Aaron

      As a leader in fiber optic technology, WV has many of these high tech jobs. The problem is, they are in pockets of WV. If this bill stands, as it eliminated exemptions to how employees are paid, it will create OT rates for employees making middle class wages. If you are a firm that pays an employee $50,000 to $75,000 annually, with an average hourly wage of $25.00 per hour or more in an industry here the employee routinely works 45-50 hours a week, are you going to pay the additional $20,000.00 or more in salary per employee or are you going to pack up and move 50 miles to a state that keeps that employees status exempt?

      • Aaron

        It's not that I believe him any more than I do you even though he put forth an intelligent, fact based argument. I know how to research the bill to see for myself.

      • Butch

        There is one guy that says this paid by big business to say it and you believe it hook, line, and sinker? Gullible. That is what that is called.

        If it was a real issue, we would have heard about it before the bill signing.

    • JeffnWV

      If you were able to read the actual article, it was the overtime rules for high-tech jobs, not minimum wage.

      • JimJim

        OK, overtime pay is way down the list. Happy Now.. ;)

  • DWM

    The law of unintended consequences, idiot politicians trying to right a wrong that does not exist results in causing the low income people they are trying to help to lose their jobs and at the same time, drive away great paying jobs from the state.

    Must have taken lessons from our king.

    • cutty77

      If The Lawyers don't like it. Then i'm all for it.

  • thornton

    Does McDonalds give out gold watches after 40 years behind the counter?...maybe that is the draw for the lofty goals of folks today.

    Retirement is a fine thing, I guess....certainly appears so from the comments here by a retired teacher. It's one way to clean house.....just need a better fly strip in front of the some doors.

  • TruthTeller

    If you want more pay do the right thing and get an education of some kind and get a better job. I am so sick of people always being lazy and expecting the tax payers who did get an education and got a better job to support everyone who refuses to work hard for a better life. This is what happens when Government gets involved. It makes people dependent of the Government which is funded by the tax payer. Just get an education or trade of some kind and then you can get better pay at a better job.

    • FollowtheData

      You do realize that increasing the minimum wage is not paid for by taxpayers, right?

      • DWL

        FollowtheData <-- Demonstrating the need for education! Liberals opening their mouths and speaking. Not hard to see who you voted for - the m0r0n. Last time I looked, every consumer was a taxpayer. Now I understand why they still have the "I voted for the m0r0n" bumper sticks on their cars - They're not smart enough to figure out how to pull them off.

      • bulldog95

        Its paid for by everyone that works for a living and buys things with their own money.

      • JeffnWV

        So, businesses just order up extra cash? Wow, can you get me the contact information?

      • Shadow

        We all know that it is paid by the Tooth Fairy out of Fairy Dust, no consumer dollars at all.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Is this yet another stumbling block to "jobs" coming to West Virginia, tantamount to the CALA poll of a few days ago?

    If the water crisis won't stop development and jobs, I wouldn't be too concerned about a hike in the minimum wage. It all kind smacks of Industrial Revolution England: "Please, sir, may I have some more?".

    Bowles Rice, by the way, is a management-focused organization, not a "labor and employment" generating engine as its name implies.

    • James

      Did you happen to read the article or just the head line? Try reading the article, and you will see the attorney is referencing other changes in the bill affecting higher paid professional workers and overtime requirements which are much more generous than the federal wage and hour law.

      As with the refusal to pass a right to work law, WV will have the most union protective jobs in the country and no employers willing to come to WV and provide jobs for the people to enjoy these lucrative benefits. We can remain last in employment, lowest wages in the country, and the unions can continue to feast on the government jobs and excessively high prevailing wages the rest of you get to pay for.

      You can thing your legislatures and the unions for the 8.75 minimum wage and lucrative overtime benefits while you stand in the unemployment line and recheck how much you will get in food stamps this month.

      • WV Citizen

        What government jobs are the union feasting on, brother? Why should an employee who works more than 40 hours a week receive overtime for it.
        This will do one of two things, 1) the employeess will be paid more or 2.) more employees will be hire to reduced the overtime worked hours.
        All West Virginians have the RIGHT to work they just cannot find a job.
        The jobs are overseas and the pay is pennies. Maybe we should quit buying MADE IN CHINA product while a USA Corporation is profitting!

    • Mason County Contrarian

      *It all kind of smacks

  • winston

    right to work law good for west Virginia if you have jobs wages go up

  • wageslave

    I have three children they can put to work for minimum wage. One is six, another nine, and the oldest, at twelve, is ready for the mines!

    Keep those wages low, and keep repealing labor laws! My family's gotta eat.

    • Aaron

      If you are having difficulty making ends meet, perhaps you should utilize the system that will allow you to improve your skills in a chosen field. Afterwards, as your children get older, advise them to do the same thing.

      Americans live in poverty not because someone is keeping them down, they live in poverty because of their personal choices.

      • JL

        Aaron is right on the money here.

      • Hop'sHip

        Aaron: Why do you think so many more Americans are choosing to live in poverty? Is it just that they are lacking the moral fibre of you and the other successful?

        • Aaron

          I honestly don't know Mr. Hip but I know that if poverty is to be eradicated, it will be through individual responsibility and personal accountability, not government programs.

          I also know it's not that simple but I do know education and/or training is the key.

          I wonder, do you believe so many stay in poverty because the rich are keeping them down?

          • Aaron

            I guess one's view on most of those issues would depend on what you believe the role of government to be. I'm not a huge fan of the government protecting either side, whether it be the company or the Union. That's why I favor a tax code molded after what our founders envisioned in that it's fair and equitable,

            I know many say that's is disproportionate to the poor because they spend a higher percentage of their income on needs which prevents wealth accumulation that may very well be true but I'm not sure that a progressive tax is any better. I don’t think you can take from one and give to another and make both better off.

            Again, it goes back to what you believe the role of government should be. I kind of lack the notion that we need a central government to provide for us our common needs, stuff that we can't pay for on our own and that's about it.

            If I had to pick a personal hero from our Presidents, it would be Calvin Coolidge, not the Gipper. His policies sum up how I feel about the role of government.

          • Hop'sHip

            You are not going to convince me that you are not too bright, Aaron. You're not JL. I read many of your comments and find them usually well thought out. I think you would agree that we have given certain tax advantages to capital. We have engaged in trade agreements that were more concerned with protecting patents than workers. We have adopted policies unfriendly to unions. We have even tried to eliminate estate taxes that mainly benefits the wealthy.

          • Aaron

            I don't suppose you could elaborate, do you? On some issues, I'm not very bright and I really do not want to comment in a manner that would make me look madd.

          • Hop'sHip

            I think we have pursued policies since Reagan that has rewarded capital and wealth over work. That has contributed to downward pressure on wages and accumulation of wealth not seen since the Gilded Age.

        • JL

          They choose to live in poverty because of the plethora of government handouts and entitlements. The vast majority is too lazy to better themselves, and when you think about it, it's pretty compelling: you don't have to break a sweat drinking beer and watching daytime television. It's time to dismantle entitlement programs and encourage hard work, not laziness.

          • Aaron

            I did. I quoted his 9 words comments, which is probably one of my favorite quotes of all time. I believe in a small, limited government and that quote goes hand in hand with those beliefs. I agree with a lot of Reagan's policies but I wouldn't label him my hero.

          • Hop'sHip

            I thought it was you who quoted Reagan on some silly comment about government helping. I apologize for that.

          • Aaron

            I wouldn't say Ronald Reagan is my hero Mr. Hip so I'm not sure why you would throw that in there. Could you elaborate on why you think he's my hero.

            And while you are at it, can you expand on those "Scandanavian countries that provide much more support for their citizenry than we do and also have experienced much greater rates of economic mobility" with some details? I only ask because many are going broke as we speak, in large part do to much do the the support they provide their citizenry.

          • JL

            Maybe you should move to Scandinavia. My guess is you'd fit right in, taking whatever is being dished out.

          • Hop'sHip

            Thanks. That explains why we had no poverty before these social programs. But what about those Socialist nanny Scandanavian countries that provide much more support for their citizenry than we do and also have experienced much greater rates of economic mobility. Oh well. As Aaron's hero Ronald Reagan would say "facts are stupid things."

      • dlnrn

        Oh, please! There is so much wrong with this comment, I don't know where to start. Utilize what system? Assuming transportation to and from an educational facility is available, massive debt is often required to obtain an education. Not to mention, not everyone has the ability to improve themselves through education. It can be done, but the odds are against an overwhelming percentage of people these days. Don't make it sound like it's just that people choose to be poor!

        • Aaron

          WV Works pays not only tuition but gives the student cash each month as well as paying miles if they drive to school. In that income bracket, the student is eligible for a pell grant that exceeds $5000 annually. Every public University that I've been to in WV has a bus line that travels between the school and the plethora of income subsidized housing.

          I don't know how to address that statement "not everyone has the ability to improve themselves through education." Are you saying they are to dumb to obtain training and/or education?

  • Gordon

    Here is the way I see it.
    Minimum wage jobs are what should be considered a stepping stone career. Always moving forward for a bit more. Better yourself every year or two.
    I believe raising the min wage is going to shocked when they end up in the same boat every week when they pay all the bills. Because as your pay increases, someone has to pay for it. Guess who that someone is? Yep. you, and me and granny. So, by the time the added taxes come out and you pay an extra 50 cents for this and a buck for that because prices increase when your overhead increases, your 1.50 raise is gone.
    What is accomplished? a couple more bucks for the state in taxes, which they will give back at the end of the tax year anyhow!!! NUTS isn't it!?
    Then we worry about overtime! With these laws, it's gone and hello part time workers.

    • Hillbilly

      With the minimum wage increase also comes the inevitable cutback in hours for the workers...

    • james hicks

      And you seem to think that things has not went up since the last mim. wage increase? Where have you been? In todays economy many don't have a choice it is take a job at low wages or none at all. That BS you talk used to be 1/2 true but not any more. If things keep the way they have been the last few years where 93% of all increases in pay goes to the top 10% it will get much worse. Why should anyone work a full time job and live in poverty?

  • Bob

    One thing for sure, the rich want to keep sticking it to the little guy/gal. Something's never change.

    A minimum wage hike was long over due. Thank you WV Legislature.

    I want to feed my family and send my kids to college also. I'm tired of the rich keeping me down. I work 2 min. wage jobs, my family deserves a raise too!

    • Abbagoochie

      If you cant afford to feed and raise your kids and expect others to give you the "freebies", then you should have kept your clothes on and not had those kids. You knew before you had them it would be tough. Its not my problem you are irresponsible.

      • DWL

        Ditto!!!!!!! Another m0r0n voter identified.

      • JL

        Agree 100%.

    • Critical

      Is min. wage the best you can do? Sorry you are not capable of advancing yourself.

    • Aaron

      How is anyone keeping you down? Are you not responsible for your own actions? Why are you in a position where you after work to minimum-wage jobs to take care of your family? Did you not go to school when you were younger and get an education? Can you not get training for a career that pays more than minimum wage?

      • WV Citizen

        What is the average cost of a college education? Over 4 years about $50,000.
        How can the Walmart families afford this when they live in poverty now?
        Even state government employees are under paid. Many work two jobs to afford to put food on the table. Utilities, insurance, taxesand the everyday cost of consumer goods are skyrocketing!
        The priviledge are blaming the worker instead of the companies who put profits over employees. Get on the right train, Aaron and quit blowing your own whistle.

        • Aaron

          No, the most expensive public tuition in this state is $6000 a year. Many schools have it for much cheaper. Some as low as $2000 per year.

          Pell Grants will pay up to $5700 a year. Other grants can add up to 2500 a year. A prudent student could go to college with very little student loan debt.

          What debt one incurs would be repaid based on income after they get out of school and could be paid off in as little as 10 years if you're willing to work for the government.

          Welfare recipients could get by without having to incur debt at all if they chose not to. If you do incur debt it's an investment in yourself. Is that not a worthy investment, particularly if it to gets you out of poverty?

    • Alfie

      You go girl!

  • A Devoted Liberal Hippie

    We should all just share the wealth dudes. Hyperbolic stereotypers will be the end of us all! Go Obama!

  • Howard

    I guess going backwards is the only way business wants to go, before there was a minimum wage and before the 40 hour work week.

    Working is never enough, they always want workers to do more with less. The gap isn't big enough for them, they want us making less and less.

    • Aaron

      Generally speaking companies most affected by minimum wage increases are small businesses. Large corporations don't pay a lot of minimum-wage workers as they generally need a more stable workforce this they pay higher wages.

      This whole class warfare stereotype created by liberals to foster an us against them mentality is nothing more then a lie perpetuated by individuals who benefit from voters thinking in this manner.

      Wake up and see this tripe for what it is. If you want more out of life than work to get it. It really is that simple.

      • Hillbilly

        I disagree - McDonalds, Walmart, etc are NOT small corporations..

        • Aaron

          Both are perfect examples of my statement as neither pay predominantly minimum wage to their employees. If you go to either and 6 months into working for either, you are still making minimum wage it is because you are a marginal employee who lacks initiative, likely has attendance problems and isn't working as hard as you can.

          If you work at either and take the initiative to work hard, both attempt to keep you as an employee by giving you raises. Thank you for making my point.

          • Aaron

            I have no compassion for someone unwilling to take responsibility for their own life. If one out of poverty they change it out. I'm living proof of that. I grew up in a household with one parent after my father passed away and my mother struggle to get by. At times she didn't know how she was going to pay the rent or put food on the table.

            I joined the military because I had a few other options. From there I have worked, provided for my family, and now I'm in the process of burning my third and fourth college degrees.

            I achieved all of this. It wasn't handed to me. I don't want to hear somebody else's sad story about how somebody else is holding them down. People are accountable for their own choices in life. People should stop blaming somebody else and take responsibility for their own life.

          • WV Citizen

            Aaron, you have no compassion for the poor. Its people like you that is wrong with our state and country. Companies will ONLY pay little as they can regardless of your work history!
            I truly feel sorry for you. One day you may be in there shoes and I will be the one helping you.