The pro-business International Franchise Association is launching “Kansas City for Franchise Fairness,” a publicity campaign against a proposal to raise the city’s minimum wage.
Meanwhile, the pro-labor Stand Up KC organization and other supporters said about seven in 10 likely Kansas City voters approve of an immediate increase in the city’s wage floor to $8.50 an hour.
The city’s minimum wage now is $7.65, set by Missouri law.
The franchise association said Friday it will begin sponsoring radio spots in the Kansas City market on Monday, urging opposition to a proposal to increase the city’s minimum wage, partly because the group says it discriminates against franchised small businesses in the city. It says 1,464 local franchises, employing 18,300 workers in Kansas City, would be hurt by part of the proposed ordinance, which would require franchised businesses to pay higher wages on a faster timetable than independent businesses.
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The franchise association reacted to the proposed ordinance, which would require employers of fewer than 250 to raise the minimum to $8.50 this year, stairstep it to $9 in 2017, then raise it by a dollar an hour each year in 2018, 2019 and 2020. But franchisees of large companies would be treated as large employers required to raise their minimums to $9 an hour this year and add a dollar a year starting in 2017 until 2021.
The franchise association has told Mayor Sly James that discrepancy will spark litigation similar to what it has brought against Seattle.
The franchise association cited a June 13-15 survey by Remington Research Group saying that 55 percent of Kansas City voters surveyed opposed a different treatment for franchised businesses, although a majority of those surveyed supported a minimum wage increase.
Labor, religious and social justice organizations that support the wage increase on Friday introduced different poll results. The May 19 telephone survey by Public Policy Polling asked 626 likely Kansas City voters whether they supported or opposed the city’s proposed incremental wage increases.
Fifty-three percent of those surveyed strongly supported the plan, 16 percent somewhat supported it, 8 percent somewhat opposed it, 20 percent strongly opposed it and 3 percent were not sure.
Jim Williams with the polling organization said it was “noteworthy to see strong suport across demographics.” He said his group conducts polls around the country on the minimum wage issue and finds that “generally people are on board with” the aim of President Barack Obama to raise the minimum to $10.10 an hour. He said support for $15 an hour was harder to get.
Williams said his poll asked specifically about the incremental raises proposed in Kansas City rather than a broad question that asked only for opinions about $10.10 or $15 an hour. A poll that asks whether voters approve of “more than doubling” the minimum wage presents “a more extreme action” instead of incremental increases, he said.