Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

June 13, 2014

Poll: Most locals want higher minimum wage

TAHLEQUAH — Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a measure to gradually raise its minimum to $15 per hour, sparking debate across the country about a “living wage.”

At a local level, the Cherokee Nation will be raising its minimum wage from the federal standard of $7.25 per hour to $9.50 over the next two years.

Shannon Grimes, a local chiropractor and chairman of the Cherokee County Republican Party, would like to see the minimum wage outlawed altogether. Grimes posted his thoughts recently on his Facebook page, which created a great deal of local interest.

“The minimum wage outlaws jobs,” said Grimes. “I know that sounds strange, and most have never thought of it that way, but that is the literal effect of minimum wage laws. Such laws make it illegal for someone to get paid for work that has a value less than minimum wage.”

Grimes said oftentimes, work that has a value of less than minimum wage often doesn’t get done, or is done illegally by “black market” labor, which is paid under the table.

“We usually only hear of minimum wage based on its intent to help raise the living standards of the poor,” said Grimes. “You rarely hear minimum wage called out for what it actually does: ensure that it’s more difficult for young and unskilled people to get a job.”

Grimes said it’s also important to note that about 4 percent of the labor market is earning minimum wage.

The Daily Press asked its Facebook friends to comment on their opinion of the minimum wage, which drew a number of responses.

“We need a living wage, $10 is not near enough,” said Kate Starr. “We also need wage maximums. The pie is only so big and everyone deserves enough to survive. I think of particular interest is Mr. Grimes’ comment of not knowing ‘why we would make some jobs illegal.’”

Starr believes Grimes, as a representative of Republicans in Cherokee County, should have a “better grasp of why we have labor laws in this country to begin with.”

“The reason is called exploitation,” said Starr. “Without labor laws, historically, people have been working in unsafe conditions with poor pay. My question to Mr. Grimes is, ‘Who are you representing in Cherokee County?’”

Terry Reed said the minimum wage argument is moot until the federal tax code is overhauled.

“None of this matters until the tax code is repaired and the top 1 percent actually start contributing their share,” said Reed.

A number of respondents agreed with Reed, including Elissa Lyons and Katie Sharp.

James Bagwell pointed out that had the minimum wage kept pace with the cost of living since 1968, it would now be $21.68 per hour.

Finessa Parks believes experience should determine wages.

“We all work hard to get to where our pay is now,” said Parks. “Just leave it alone, as most business people get an increase in pay every so many months. If [the minimum wage] were to jump from $7.25 to $10 [per hour], then the people who [earn more than minimum wage] should get a $3 raise as well.”

John Morgan believes the wage should be raised, but did not offer a dollar figure.

“The cost of all goods have risen without [the minimum wage being raised],” said Morgan. “It needs to be raised. If anyone says it will raise the cost of your Big Mac, look at this way: since the last time the minimum wage was raised in 2009, the cost of your Big Mac has risen over $1.50.”

Kyle Ray Terrell said after paying for basic things like a mortgage, utilities, day care and fuel, sometimes the refrigerator remains empty.

“Some may say [the solution is] better budgeting, but we all dream and want,” said Terrell. “If you are on top of the pyramid, of course you are not going to worry about the people that are at the bottom. The workers who do the labor for the people at the top should get thrown a bone. That just seems like the moral thing to do.”


To read the results of the Daily Press minimum wage poll, visit



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Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
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