Costco, Eileen Fisher and Small Business Owners Nationwide Support Fair Minimum Wage Act Introduced Today In Congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2013
Contact: Bob Keener, bobkeener@businessforsharedprosperity.org, 617-610-6766

Washington DC – Business owners applauded the introduction today of legislation to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) and Rep. George Miller (CA) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $10.10, then provide for annual increases linked to the rising cost of living. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years from an abysmal $2.13 an hour at present to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

“At Costco, we know that paying employees good wages makes good sense for business,” said Craig Jelinek, Costco’s President and CEO. “We pay a starting hourly wage of $11.50 in all states where we do business, and we are still able to keep our overhead costs low. An important reason for the success of Costco’s business model is the attraction and retention of great employees. Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty. We support efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.”

“The biggest problem for Main Street businesses is lack of customer demand,” said Business for a Fair Minimum Wage Director Holly Sklar. “Minimum wage increases have been so little and so late that workers making the current $7.25 an hour – just $15,080 a year — have less buying power than minimum wage workers in 1956, and far less than they had at the minimum wage’s $10.59 high point in 1968, adjusted for inflation. Corporate profits are at their highest since 1950, as a percentage of national income, while the share going to employees is near its low point. We can’t build a strong economy on a falling wage floor. Let’s raise America by raising the minimum wage.”

“We’ve been in business since 1978 and won many awards, including Maryland Small Business of the Year,” said Brian England, Owner of British American Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland. “Our employees are a big reason why. We pay our employees a fair wage with benefits. But some businesses pay so little their employees can’t make a living. That’s not right. We should be moving working Americans as far away from needing the social safety net as possible. Raising the minimum wage raises everyone up.” 

Andy Shallal, owner of a group of restaurants – Busboys and Poets and Eatonville – located in Maryland, DC and Virginia, said, “Busboys and Poets was founded in 2005 and started with 30 employees. Today we have over 500 employees. Fair pay is fundamental to our success. Our minimum wage at Busboys and Poets and Eatonville is $10.25 per hour. I just signed another lease last month for another Busboys and Poets! Don’t believe it when you hear business will suffer if the minimum wage goes up. It will help our economy grow and thrive.”

Lew Prince, Managing Partner of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Midwest’s largest independent music store, said, “The evidence that trickle-down economics doesn’t work is all around us. People are falling out of the middle class instead of rising into it. Putting money in the hands of people who desperately need it to buy goods and services will give us a trickle-up effect. Raising the minimum wage is a really efficient way to circulate money in the economy from the bottom up where it can have the most impact in alleviating hardship, boosting demand at businesses and decreasing the strain on our public safety net from poverty wages.”

“Wages are a basic cost of business and like energy, transportation and other expenses, costs change over time,” said Amy Chender, Chief Operating Officer of retailer ABC Home. “The minimum wage must increase to reflect the rising cost of living. ABC Home pays well above the current minimum wage and we are ardently committed to supporting a minimum wage raise. No business is an island. A minimum wage increase will improve our economy, and is long overdue.”

“America should be a country where no one who puts in a fair day's work can't afford to make ends meet, and no business owner who offers a living wage is undercut by competitors who do not,” said Joseph Rotella, Owner of Spencer Organ Company in Waltham, Massachusetts. Not only is increasing the minimum wage the right and fair thing to do, but it will also help stimulate our struggling economy by putting more money into the hands of workers who need to spend it.”

Extensive research refutes the claim that increasing the minimum wage causes increased unemployment and business closures, as Business for a Fair Minimum Wage summarizes in Research Shows Minimum Wage Increases Do Not Cause Job Loss.

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage will be launching a sign-on statement shortly for business people supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage.

* Business owners across the country available for interview in addition to those quoted. *

###

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.

www.businessforafairminimumwage.org