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Tucson business community reacts after minimum wage hike approved

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Posted at 9:12 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 00:12:18-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — On Tuesday night, Tucson voters approved Prop 206, increasing the city’s minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour by 2025.

The increases would start by April 1, 2022—rising to $13 an hour. The wage will reach $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2025.

Tucson’s unofficial election results show the measure passed easily (60% to 32%). Yet the business community is split on the issue.

Bike shop owner Jenna Majchrzak, who bought Transit Cycles in the Menlo Park neighborhood, called it a “good start.”

“I don’t believe that there’s anything as an unskilled trade or unskilled labor,” she said. “And if you’re going to work and you’re doing a good job, you deserve to get paid for it.

“I believe that working people deserve to make a living wage and afford to live in the city that they work in.”

Majchrzak says she pays her employees more than minimum wage in part because of her experience as a bike mechanic, but that she knows others stuck at minimum wage who are struggling.

“I was severely underpaid for the skillset that I have,” she said. “That’s something is historically true of bicycle mechanics almost everywhere… I’m not getting rich doing this. None of us are. But we do it because we love it. And if I can afford to make a little bit less, so they can make a little bit more, that’s why I do this.”

Other business owners are not happy with the measure passing.

“If it was simply a wage increase, our conversation might be very different,” Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce interim president and CEO Michael Guymon, who cites other requirements included within the measure as concerning.

The new law also calls for new adjustments—such as three hours of guaranteed pay for employees with shifts canceled less than 24 hours in advance.

There’s also potential confusion for owners with locations or projects both inside and outside the city limits needing to pay employees different amounts.

Guymon called these “bureaucratic nightmares” that will be placed on businesses.

“They’re just gonna have to kind of figure out how to shift their business,” he said. “Will they have to raise prices? Will they have to cut hours? They’re gonna have to make some significant adjustments.”

Guymon says time will tell how the actual wage increase affects businesses, but he says “market conditions are getting us pretty close to those wages,” citing the state’s minimum wage increase passed in 2016.

Guymon says he wished the city had waited for a state or regional increase to talk place instead. According to him, businesses are already contacting the Chamber, some saying this new law may eventually force them to shut down.

“There are groups like adult care home facilities, there are groups like child care facilities,” he said. “They’re already reaching out to say, ‘I’m really in a tough spot.’”

The city must also establish a new ‘Department of Labor Standards’ by April 1, 2022, with the primary responsibility of handling and investigating workplace complaints.

Prop 206’s full text is available online here.