Budget measure apparently trumps city's minimum wage referendum

State lawmakers have apparently stopped an attempt to raise the minimum wage for hotel workers in Providence.

It was a spirited effort by Providence hotel workers, having gathered more than 1,200 signatures on a petition to raise the minimum wage at large hotels in the city to $15 an hour.

They convinced the Providence City Council, which approved a resolution Thursday night to let voters decide on the higher minimum wage on a ballot question in November.

But the state House of Representatives put a measure in its version of the state budget prohibiting cities and towns from setting their own minimum wages.

"Our elected officials decided to ignore our efforts to try and create a livable wager for a large group of low-wage, low-income workers in the city, basically an attempt for us to have a wage we can live on that we can support our families on, that we can have decent dignified lives, and they decided to shut it down all at once," said Evan McLaughlin, who works at the Providence Hilton.

McLaughlin, who is single, said he works 70 hours a week at just over $9 an hour, which he said is just barely enough to make ends meet. He talked about others who have families.

"Some of them work 60 to 70 hours a week. You still need food stamps. You still need public assistance. And at the end of the day, that's the hotel pushing. They don't want to cover the cost of their workers. They want to put it on the taxpayers," McLaughlin said.

The House argued chaos would ensue across Rhode Island with a different minimum wage in each city and town.

The state Senate approved a statewide $9 an hour minimum wage that goes to the House for consideration.

A representative of the Prociaccianti Group, which owns the Hilton, said the city and the state make its own decisions on legislation. The company wouldn't comment on matters between Hilton and its workers.