CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue predicted Monday Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin would sign the bill raising the minimum wage despite objections being raised by employer and business groups over the impact of overtime changes.
The AFL-CIO joined several other groups in supporting the increase that passed the House and Senate on the final night of the legislative session. It would raise the current $7.25 an hour minimum wage to $8.00 on Jan. 1, 2015 and then to $8.75 in 2016.
The deadline to sign or veto the bill is Tuesday or it becomes law without Tomblin’s signature.
“I think the governor is going to look at the people who need it the most and sign the bill,” Perdue said. “In signing the bill he’s going to do a very good thing for the people who need it the most.”
Perdue said 122,000 state residents would benefit from the increase.
Concern over the increase began to build last week when the changes it makes in overtime language were highlighted. The change trumps the federal overtime exemptions that 80 percent of employers in West Virginia follow.
Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie was among those calling on calling on Tomblin to veto the bill during an appearance last Friday on MetroNews Talkline.
“If the intent is to make minimum wage go up, and solely that, go back and make a bill, very simple, that states just that,” said McKenzie. “Somehow, this has gone through committee after committee, two floor sessions, and, clearly, no one read the bill.”
He added the overtime changes could impact Wheeling by approximately $400,000 a year.
Labor leader Perdue said the concerns about the bill are very late in the game.
“Never heard anything…..until after the bill passed and went to the governor,” Perdue said. “If you’re going to pay attention to legislation come up and have fun with us for sixty days and make sure if there’s a problem with it you try and address that problem.”