Providence Hotel Workers Wants $15 Per Hour

by ABC6 News Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

 “Si, se puede. Si, se puede.”

A small crowd of labor activists chanted, “yes we can,” in Spanish.

This after delivering over 1,000 signed petitions to the Providence City Clerk.

They hope to force the City Council to raise the minimum wage for hotel workers to 15 dollars per hour.

Right now, non–union workers make nine dollars an hour.

“I don't think it's right that I have friends there who work full time – more than full–time – they still have to use food stamps. I can't even afford my own place, let alone go out and spend money in businesses,” said Evan McLaughlin, a non-union hotel worker.

But McLaughlin's counter part, who is in a union, already makes 15 dollars an hour.

“It's very hard. They can't pay their rent; they can't pay their bills, it's not enough money. It's not enough,” said Miguelia Almancar, a union hotel worker.

Once the clerk certifies all the petitions, the city council must vote on the 15 dollar minimum wage within 70 days.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, “This has gotten very political. All four Democrats running for Governor this year support raising the minimum wage to $10 dollars and ten cents per hour. The two republicans oppose it. So, $15 dollars an hour is probably a real stretch.”

Earlier this year, fast food workers were also demanding $15 dollars per hour, but failed.

Critics say a wage too high, could force layoffs.

“When you do raise the minimum wage, there is always an impact because you have to do more with less. Because there is only so much they can pay and you can't pass everything onto the consumer,” said State Rep. Anthony Giarrusso, (R) East Greenwich-West Greenwich.

If the Providence City Council does not act on the 15 dollar minimum wage, it could be on the ballot for voters to decide, this fall.