“A Good Worker” Doesn’t Make Minimum Wage For Long Says Senator

Video by Tracey Pollock
US Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson speaks with constituents in his office about living on the minimum wage. Johnson says he once worked for minimum wage, but had to live with his parents and work as many as 96 hours a week. Yet he has voted at least twice against raising it.

Transcript of Senator Ron Johnson’s conversation about minimum wage.

Senator Ron Johnson: Bottom line: when you’re a good worker you don’t stay at minimum wage for long. Trust me on that. (Crowd laughs)
It’s not universal. It’s not universal, but trust me as an employer, as an employer I certainly didn’t want to lose good employees. And so you actually have a better marketplace. And so if your employer is not paying you good wages and you’re a good worker, you go look for other places. Now that’s hard to do, that’s hard to do when we have such high levels of unemployment. But again I would get back to we don’t have a very attractive place for business investment.

Tracey Pollock: Senator, have you ever lived off of minimum wage before? Do you have any idea what it’s like for a family to live off of minimum wage.

Johnson: My first…

Pollock: How old were you? You were 15? Did you have children?

Johnson: My first job was for a $1.45 an hour. And again I worked full time. And I think the most number of hours I worked was going to college, was 96 in a week plus taking full workload.

Constituent: How much did college cost when went?

Johnson: It was a lot cheaper

Constituent: And how much was your rent?

Johnson: I was able to live at my parents house. OK?

Pollock: So you actually didn’t have to support yourself off of minimum wage. Is that what you’re saying?

Johnson: No. But I supported myself after I got my education.

Here’s the entire unedited video of the meeting

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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