The two major party candidates in Iowa’s first congressional district sparred over the minimum wage during and immediately after a joint television appearance this (Friday) morning.
Democrat Bruce Braley, a lawyer from Waterloo, accused his Republican rival Mike Whalen of creating jobs at his Machine Shed restaurants which pay little more than the federal minimum wage of $5.15. Braley says Whalen pays “wait staff” the bare minimum allowed by law — $3.09 an hour — and with tips that often doesn’t average out to much more than five-bucks an hour. “I’ve worked in a restaurant. I’ve worked at jobs like this for minimum wage,” Braley says. “Some days you can receive good times. Some days you can receive low tips and so it fluctuates.”
Whalen says his wait staff makes “good money” and many average as much as 15 or 20 dollars an hour. “All I can say is come on down and talk to ’em,” Whalen says. “As I said to Mr. Braley, come on down out of the courtroom and come down to the dining room for a day and really talk to working people like I have for 28 years and get the reality.”
Braley says if he’s elected, he’ll vote to raise the federal minimum wage. “The minimum wage right now, when adjusted for inflation, is at one of the lowest points since it began and for people who work minimum wage jobs…a difference of $2.10 an hour is an enormous difference,” Braley says.
Braley has promised not to take a congressional pay raise until the minimum wage is hiked. Whalen, the Republican, says he supports the bill that cleared the House which not only raised the minimum wage but also included incentives for small businesses. “The job-creating machine for this country is at the small business level, not at the big companies,” Whalen asys. “We could tolerate an increase in the minimum wage if we know that we’re not going to shut down that job creating machine.”
The Braley campaign distributed a news release with comments from a person who said she worked at Whalen’s Machine Shed restaurant in the Quad Cities, but she is not available today to Radio Iowa to confirm her statements.