This Wednesday, July 24, will mark four years without an increase in the federal minimum wage since it was set at $7.25 an hour in 2009. Business for a Fair Minimum Wage supported the last increase in the minimum wage and believes another makes good business sense. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over three years and then provide for annual adjustments for inflation. If the minimum wage had kept pace with the cost of living since reaching its highest value in 1968, it would be an inflation-adjusted $10.74 today.
Here are some of the business owners and leaders available for comment:
Jon Cooper, Owner and President of Spectronics Corporation in New York, the world’s leading manufacturer of ultraviolet equipment and fluorescent materials, said, “As owner of a manufacturing company with 150 employees, I know increasing the minimum wage is good for business. More than 70 percent of our nation’s economy is driven by consumer spending and increasing the minimum wage will allow low-wage workers to buy food, clothing and other essentials, putting money right back into local businesses. In addition, companies that pay workers today’s minimum wage are in effect being subsidized by taxpayers because these employees are far more likely to need to turn to government assistance programs.”
Camille Moran, Owner of Caramor Industries, which includes Four Seasons Christmas Tree Farm in Louisiana, said, “It’s not right or smart for businesses to pay poverty wages. If I don’t pay my employees a decent wage they won’t have money to spend at other businesses, and if other businesses don’t pay their workers a decent wage, they can’t afford to buy my trees and I can’t afford to hire more employees. Our lowest paid employees already earn at least $10 and we provide better product at competitive prices with big box stores. Raising the minimum wage is good economics.”
Holly Sklar, Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said, “Remember that workers are also consumers, and the minimum wage sets the floor under worker paychecks. Minimum wage increases have been so little and so late in recent decades that there’s been heavy erosion in the buying power of the minimum wage, and in worker wages up the ladder. The minimum wage would be over $10 already if it had kept up with the rising cost of living since the 1960s instead of falling behind. We can’t build a strong economy with wages worth less than they were half a century ago.”
Amanda Rothschild, Co-Owner and Manager of Charmington’s café in Baltimore, said, “We’ve paid our employees more than the minimum wage from the day we opened, and that’s helped our business succeed. I want my employees concentrating on our customers, not worrying how they will afford to pay rent or put food on their own table. We have low turnover, which saves us money and improves productivity and quality. If my small restaurant can pay higher entry wages, certainly the big chains can too.”
Jim Wellehan, President of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes in Maine, said, “Lamey-Wellehan, the shoe company my Dad started in 1914, has grown over the years with longtime employees who enjoyed their job. Paying fair wages has helped us succeed where others failed. The customer satisfaction that depends a lot on our employees has helped us win shoe industry awards like Retailer of the Year. Raising the minimum wage will help our economy, not hurt it.”
Amy Chender, Chief Operating Officer of retailer ABC Home, with stores in New York, New Jersey and Florida, said, “A minimum wage increase will put a stronger foundation under our economy. Wages are a basic cost of business and like energy, transportation and other expenses, costs change over time. The minimum wage must increase to reflect the rising cost of living. ABC Home pays well above the current minimum wage to all our hundreds of employees and we are ardently committed to supporting an overdue minimum wage raise.”
* Business owners available for interview in addition to those quoted above. *
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage will be launching a sign-on statement July 24 for business people supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage summarizes extensive research that refutes claims that increasing the minimum wage causes increased unemployment in Research Shows Minimum Wage Increases Do Not Cause Job Loss.