Minimum Wage Hike To Provide Boost For Local Workers

"Hi, welcome to Sonic," a voice greets customers from the speaker.

About 40 hours a week, 19-year-old Ashley Bandyk skates in and out of Sonic's doors. For how much?

"$5.15 an hour, plus tips, but it's not enough to be counted for," Bandyk said.

But she'll soon be getting a raise, thanks to Uncle Sam. It's a plan that will span over two years, giving minimum wage workers a $.70 raise by the end of this summer, and $1.40 by 2009. The $2.10 increase will bring the new minimum wage to $7.25.

The extra change would be an instant boost to Bandyk's paycheck. As for the long term, it could also help improve how minimum wage workers are viewed.

"As far as the minimum wage employee, they perceive it as a person who's in high school, or not even in school. But you can always get quality employees as far as trustworthy, able to work hard," Sonic administrative assistant Joni Bell said.

Many of Sonic's employees are young, high school graduates saving for college, so they say every penny counts. They also agree the pay raise fits the bill.

"For the work that we do, I don't think it's a $10 dollar hour job or anything," Bandyk said.

"It can always be more. But as far as where it's at now and where it will go, $2.10 will mean a lot for some people," Bell said.

Joni Bell says that down the line, the raise may cause managers to scale back on hours for employees, or the amount of workers they use at one time.