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SD Minimum Wage Petition Drive Kicks Off

September 3, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Labor Day was the setting to begin a petition drive to put the question of increasing the state's minimum wage before voters. According to Mark Anderson, president of the South Dakota State Federation of Labor, the timing is good.

"I think it's appropriate that we started it over the Labor Day weekend, which is actually the weekend when we honor the achievements of American workers," he said. "If Americans are working hard, they ought to earn a living doing it."

The measure would increase South Dakota's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour, with annual cost-of-living adjustments. Backers of the petition drive need to turn in 15,855 signatures from registered voters by November 4 to get the issue on next year's ballot.

Anderson said the union believes there is enough support to get the signatures, from people who are fed up with the widening gap between rich and poor.

"If you take a close look at where corporate profits are, CEOs' wages, workers in America are not getting their fair share, and this is one way to correct that," he declared.

Opponents say that if the minimum wage is raised, people will lose jobs. Anderson said he has seen studies on the issue, and called that a "straw man" argument. He noted that it's been five years since the minimum wage has been increased.

"Workers in South Dakota, particularly at the bottom of the pay scale, haven't had a raise for five years. It's time the minimum wage went up," Anderson said.


Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD