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Volunteers collecting signatures to try and raise the minimum wage

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The minimum wage debate is heating up in West Michigan.

Dozens of people hit the streets of Kalamazoo Saturday morning, collecting signatures in a push to raise the minimum wage.

Just this week, Michigan United and the Raise the Wage Coalition cleared petition language to start a statewide drive to raise the wage from 7$.40 to $10.10 an hour. That's the same amount President Obama is asking for -- for all minimum-wage workers in America.

The call is getting mixed reactions. Some are saying it will lift thousands out of poverty, while others worry it will lead to layoffs and more automation.

"Large organizations, it's easier for them to absorb it like Wendy's or McDonalds, versus a mom-and-pop small restaurant. It is going to be hard for them to absorb that," says Dr. Satish Deshpande, professor of management at Western Michigan University.

Economic justice organizer Meredith Loomis Quinlan says, "We believe that no full-time worker who's out there working over 40 hours a week should still be living in poverty."

The coalition needs 258,000 signatures by May 28 in order to put the initiative on the 2014 ballot.