UPDATE: Culver's CEO says min. wage increase 'would satisfy a lo - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Culver's CEO says min. wage increase 'would satisfy a lot of people'

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SAUK CITY, Wisconsin (WKOW) -- The CEO of Culver's believes an increase in the minimum wage would be good for many American workers.

Craig Culver said he believes those seeking a solution in the debate over a fair minimum wage should look to his restaurants.

Culver said he can't tell the company's franchisees what to pay their workers. But the nine restaurants he owns use a tiered system to pay employees.

Culver said 14 and 15-year old workers are started at the minimum wage of $7.25/hour.

But 16 to 18-year old employees begin at $8.25/hour and employees 19 years and older receive a starting pay of roughly $10/hour.

Culver said teenagers are often not as reliant on work pay to live and eat. So it makes sense that an increase in their minimum wage wouldn't be as large as what adults receive.

"I strongly believe we should have a two-tiered wage (nationally)," Culver said. "It would satisfy a lot of people."

President Barack Obama proposed a universal increase in the minimum wage to $10.10/hour in his 2014 State of the Union Address.

Republicans, including Gov. Scott Walker, have been critical of the proposal.

"The Congressional Budget Office actually says we would lose 500-thousand jobs across the country," if the minimum wage is raised, Walker said.

"What I think people want is more jobs," the Governor said. "So if you've got a non-partisan entity showing us we'd lose 500-thousand jobs, I think that's pretty serious."

Walker said his solution to those dissatisfied with low wages is to help business create jobs that can offer those workers a higher salary.

Culver acknowledged an increase in worker pay at restaurants across the country would likely result in more expensive prices on menus.

But he said he doesn't buy the argument that companies would opt to lay people off rather than give them a pay increase.

"I really don't believe there will be fewer jobs because of it," Culver said.

Culver said his idea is not a new one, although it's drawn a lot of recent publicity because he spoke about what he sees as the benefits of the tiered wage system on a public radio program last week. Culver added he has not spoken to lawmakers about the idea.

"I don't think Craig Culver would have much of an impact on that," he said with a smile.

Although if a lawmaker came calling he would "Certainly listen to what he or she had to say and if I could help in any way, I'd try to help," he said.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The head of the largest Wisconsin-based fast-food chain says he supports raising the state minimum wage to $10.10.

Culver's CEO Craig Culver says he supports a two-tier minimum wage increase, in which adults would earn $10.10/hour and people under the age of 18 would earn $8.00.

Wisconsin's minimum wage is currently $7.25 for employees of all ages.  Employers may pay an opportunity wage of $5.90/hour to employees between the ages of 14-19 for their first 90 days of work, but then must raise their pay to $7.25

Democratic legislators have introduced a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $10.10, but Republicans in both houses have said they will not take up the bill this session.  Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) has also come out strongly against a minimum wage increase.

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