Ohio Minimum Wage Policy Abolishes Exemption Categories
Last week, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced that he plans to repeal several exemptions to the Ohio Fair Wage Amendment, a referendum approved by voters last year, which increased the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85.
Many Republicans have maintained that there are several categories of employees exempt from the wage increase, and when the referendum was drafted, Republicans controlled both the executive and legislative branches of Ohio. Thus, nearly 20,000 healthcare workers, an untold number of amusement park employees and 6,000 to 8,000 farm laborers were originally expected to be exempt from the amendment, according to figures published by the Cincinnati Post.
However, the Ohio Department of Commerce, which is under the direct purview of Gov. Strickland, is now interpreting the Fair Wage Amendment exemptions to be unconstitutional because no corresponding federal exemption exists.
Robert Kennedy, the Department of Commerce superintendent of labor and worker safety told the Columbus Dispatch, “We’re interpreting that you’ve got to be in both [state and federal statutes] to be exempted from Ohio’s minimum wage.”
Under Ohio’s previous minimum wage of $5.15, a full time minimum wage worker could make at most $10,712 a year — an annual income that is nearly $3,000 below the federal poverty standards.