I partook in a meeting yesterday with RI House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in his office about the proposed increase to the subminimum wage($2.89) in the State of Rhode Island.  
Mr Mattiello put on a serious face and the onus was on us to make make a pitch for raising the minimum wage for the service industry.  Kate Conroy in the chair next to mine started things off with compelling descriptions of being forced to do managerial and janitorial duties for subminimum wage at restaurants as well as the difficulty of having to paying a babysitter more money($10 per hour) than she had earned during some of those shifts. 
Mr Speaker was a bit tough.  He kept saying things like “I’m not convinced” and “don’t ask for something you can’t get”.  Mike Araujo of the Restaurant Opportunities Center was there as well to rescue us with raw statistics that, unfortunately, were not exactly received with open arms. 
The conversation did go on longer than we had anticipated however, and there were a few laughs shared as well. On the way out the door the Speaker said to the bill’s author Aaron Regunberg, “Let’s find a number that will work”.
As all of this comes together I can see the possible likelihood of a compromised bill eventually being passed. The bill itself already compromises by gradually increasing the subminimum wage spread out over a number of years. Tipped workers rarely, if ever, receive raises from their employers and it looks as if the goal of completely eliminating the subminimum wage is unlikely for the moment.
Another word for politics could be “compromises”. If the subminimum wage increases even one dollar, it will be a desperately needed boost for the hard-working poor in Rhode Island. With that, it will feel like a success, that is unless the wage once again stagnates for another twenty years.


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