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Effort to voluntarily get city businesses to pay higher wages

A Cincinnati council member and the city are launching an effort to get more employers to pay their workers higher wages.  

P.G. Sittenfeld introduced the Cincinnati Living Wage Initiative Thursday morning at a press conference.  It asks businesses to voluntarily pay their employees $10.10 an hour. That's the amount of the proposed  federal minimum wage increase that has stalled in Congress.  

Sittenfeld said it could make people in the city less vulnerable.

“As a city here in Cincinnati and as a society, don’t we want to strive for dignity and fairness to be reflected in the paycheck of everyone who puts in a honest, hard day’s work,” Sittenfeld asked.

Businesses who participate will get a certificate and be recognized on a website.  

One of the first to be involved is Pi Pizza, opening later this month in Downtown Cincinnati. CEO Chris Sommers said paying $10.10 an hour is the right thing to do.

“It’s good for business, more people walking around with not only money to put gas in their car, to get their car fixed, but more people to buy pizza,” Sommers said. “And making sure those people who are making the pizza here can afford to buy that very pizza.”

Sommers said the company made the decision after studying the numbers to make sure it could afford to pay the higher wage.  

Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Ohio's minimum wage is going up 15 cents to $8.10 an hour starting Jan. 1. The state's rate is adjusted annually because of a 2006 voter-approved amendment to the Ohio Constitution. Increases are linked to inflation.