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Some Libraries Raising Their Minimum Wage

by on January 9, 2018

The phrase “living wage” has been bandied about quite a bit recently. It is not, however, just a pipe-dream or a political tool. In an effort to keep up with rising costs of living, many industries are increasing wages as well. The restaurant and other food services industry are especially making strides in terms are raising minimum wages to more resemble a minimum wage. Currently, restaurant workers in California are making $10 per hour; this is nearly four times as much as restaurant workers in the Midwest.1

In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, some libraries are proactively raising their minimum wage. Among them are the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library of Missouri,2 The New York Public Library,3 and the Kansas City Public Library.4 KCPL in particular is noteworthy in that it now offers a $10 per hour minimum wage, in comparison to Missouri’s $7.70.  KCPL Director R. Crosby Kemper III said, “Raising [the library’s minimum wage] is the right thing to do, and we were able financially to raise it without changing what we would otherwise do in terms of hiring new employees, in terms of maintaining our technology and equipment, our computers, buying books, and doing the other things that we would do.”5 The cost of living in Kansas City, and the cost of housing, are also stated as justifications for the change.

There are valid arguments both for and against minimum wage legislation. Notably, arguments for minimum wage tend to be social; workers who might not otherwise be able to protect themselves from employers who would take advantage are bolstered by a minimum wage law.6 Arguments against focus on the economic repercussions of the legislation, pointing out that benefits would be decreased and unemployment would rise as employers seek to balance out the accounting of higher wages.7

As a public service industry, public libraries often find that wages tend to be rather low, especially for staff members who are not classified as professional librarians (librarians holding a Masters in Library Science or Library and Information Science). As Kemper said, low wage workers tend to be stuck in low wage positions but libraries “should close the gap to the extent that [they] can.”8

References

  1. “New Minimum Wage Laws Apply to More Industries,” Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.governing.com/topics/mgmt/gov-minimum-wage-industries.html
  2. “Barry-Lawrence Library to Raise Minimum Wage,” Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.cassville-democrat.com/story/2449707.html
  3. “Keeping Up on the Minimum Wage,” Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.nypl.org/blog/2014/11/20/keeping-minimum-wage
  4. “Kansas City Library Raises Minimum Wage for Employees,” Accessed November 8, 2017. http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2017/10/legislation/kansas-city-public-library-raises-minimum-wage-employees/#_
  5. “The Real Argument for Raising the Minimum Wage,” Accessed November 21, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2015/07/31/real-argument-for-raising-minimum-wage/#5658d5a0777d
  6. “The Restaurant Industry to Take a Hit With Any Minimum Wage Hike,” Accessed November 21, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2016/11/30/the-restaurant-industry-to-take-a-hit-with-any-minimum-wage-hike/#5b7fcfc46c7f
  7. “A $15 Minimum Wage Will Crush the Retail Industry,” Accessed November 21, 2017. https://nypost.com/2016/07/31/a-15-minimum-wage-will-crush-the-retail-industry/
  8. “Kansas City Library Raises Minimum Wage for Employees,” Accessed November 8, 2017. http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2017/10/legislation/kansas-city-public-library-raises-minimum-wage-employees/#_

 


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