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Seattle raises minimum wage to $15 an hour; highest in United States

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously voted to raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour, making it the highest municipal minimum wage in the country. The measure, which takes effect on April 1, 2015, will be phased in over the next three to seven years depending on the size of the business, with a slower process for small businesses.

The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller businesses will be given seven years. In a controversial provision opposed by labor representatives, employers will be allowed to pay a lower training wage to teenagers.

The issue has dominated politics in Seattle for months. Mayor Ed Murray, who was elected last year, had promised in his campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“To those who have said that the sky will fall if we pass this legislation, let me assure you that the sun will rise tomorrow,” Councilman Nick Licata said, responding to opponents’ concerns, the Los Angeles Times reported. “It will rise seeing people having a better chance to feed their families.”

The International Franchise Association, a Washington, D.C.-based business group that represents franchise owners, said it plans to sue to stop the ordinance.

"The City Council’s action today is unfair, discriminatory and a deliberate attempt to achieve a political agenda at the expense of small franchise business owners," the group said in a statement.

Although some local businesses supported the measure, a group of restaurant owners came out to oppose it, saying it would force them to rein in expansion, decrease hiring and possibly cut service hours.

San Francisco currently has the nation’s highest hourly minimum wage at $10.74, but is considering raising it to $15.

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NRF: Spending on Father’s Day to top $12.5 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — The average person will spend $113.80 on neckties, tools, electronics and other special gifts for Father’s Day, slightly down from $119.84 last year, according to NRF’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $12.5 billion.

“While most people (64.1%) will simply say thank you to dad with a greeting card, four-in-10 (41.6%) will treat dad to new apparel items such as neckties and sweaters, spending a total of $1.8 billion, while another 42.6 percent will celebrate with special outings such as dinner or a tickets to a sporting event, spending a total of $2.5 billion.

The survey also found that those celebrating Father’s Day will spend $1.6 billion on electronic gifts like smartphones and tablets, and $1.8 billion on gift cards, letting dad pick his own special gift.

Shoppers will look for gifts at a variety of locations, including discount stores (28.1%), online (28.4%) and specialty stores (24.2%); 16.6% say they plan to support their communities and shop at a local or small business to find gift items for dad. Most shoppers, however, will head to dad’s favorite department store (35.8%).

“On-the-go shoppers will use their smartphones and tablets to research and purchase gifts for dad this year. Nearly one-quarter of smartphone owners (23.4%) will research products and compare prices on gifts using their smartphone, and three-in-10 tablet owners (30.6%) will do the same. Nearly one-in-five (18.2%) will purchase products with their tablet for Father’s Day.

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Anna’s Linens selects EarthLink managed network service, voice connectivity

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — EarthLink Holdings Corp., a managed network and cloud services provider, announced that Anna’s Linens have selected the company to provide a comprehensive managed network solution and SIP Trunking for voice over IP for its more than three hundred stores and 3,200 employees.

To accommodate their rapid growth, increasingly centralized IT model, and need to run more applications, Anna’s IT leaders worked in collaboration with EarthLink partner Grauman Communications to transition to an EarthLink MPLS network and SIP Trunking.

EarthLink also prioritized their network traffic with class of service to ensure that voice and point-of-sale traffic take precedence.

"As a result of a more robust MPLS network from EarthLink, we have the security, reliability and bandwidth to run both our voice communications and critical in-store applications to support the growth of the business," said Joe Evango, director, technology services, Anna’s Linens. "Moving forward with EarthLink, we have quite a few future projects with the potential for significant additional cost savings."

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