Op-Ed By Kevin J. Daly
Boulder Daily Camera, Oct 1, 2016
As a Colorado restaurant owner, I know that raising the minimum wage is good for restaurants and other local businesses, good for workers and good for our state's economy. That's why I support Amendment 70 on the November ballot to raise Colorado's minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.
I am the founding proprietor of the Mountain Sun Pubs and Breweries, a group of five restaurants including Southern Sun and Longs Peak Pubs in Boulder County. We have more than 350 employees in Denver, Boulder and Longmont.
Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense. Our mission is to offer great service, fresh, high-quality pub fare and finely crafted brews for affordable prices in an environment that's comfortable like your living room. Your server today may be cooking your food tomorrow, or even managing. We all work as a team to bring you the best service, food and beer we can.
Fair wages are key to our success. In our industry, employee turnover is incredibly costly. Turnover can be higher than 100 percent per year. That low pay-high turnover model is bad for everyone. Paying a fair wage keeps staff with us longer, reducing our hiring and training costs and saving us considerable time and money. Experienced employees also generate less product waste, which further saves us money.
Research shows there is a direct connection between employee contentment and customer loyalty. Unhappy employees often lack the motivation to provide good service, resulting in disgruntled customers and decreased business. Fair wages and greater staff retention means better customer service and more repeat customers, the lifeblood of business.
Today's $8.31 minimum wage is a recipe for continual financial stress. It's not enough to cover food, housing, transportation, health care and other necessities. Employees who can make ends meet are more productive. They're better able to concentrate on their jobs and our customers.
Amendment 70 would put almost half a billion dollars into family pocketbooks, generating significant new consumer spending. When I have more customers, my business grows and I create more jobs. It's a virtuous cycle. Raising the minimum wage helps build an economy that works for all of us.
Currently, many full-time minimum wage earners must rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance programs because their wages are too low to allow them to get by. We don't think taxpayers should have to pick up the tab to subsidize businesses that pay their workers too little to live on. That's not good for Colorado.
A growing number of Colorado businesses are supporting the increase. And so are businesses across the country. A nationwide poll showed that 60 percent of small-business owners with employees support gradually raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 and indexing it annually to keep pace with the cost of living.
Amendment 70 offers a needed raise for tipped workers, even though it won't change the current law allowing restaurants to pay tipped workers $3.02 less than the minimum wage if customer tips make up the difference. Despite big restaurant-chain lobbyists' claim that servers and bartenders are getting rich, the median tipped worker earns just $9.02 an hour according to the Colorado Department of Labor. It's important these workers see an incremental increase, as well. Even in states without a lower tipped minimum wage, the restaurant industry is experiencing strong job growth.
The most fundamental reason I support raising the minimum wage is I know that my success and that of our restaurants is tied to the well-being of our employees. They work hard for us, and they should be able to support themselves and their families. Contrary to what some opponents claim, taking care of your employees is good business.
Amendment 70 to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020 is a good way to start creating an economy that works for employers and employees and which grows our economy.
Kevin J.Daly owns Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, Southern Sun Pub & Brewery, and Under the Sun Eatery & Pizzeria in Boulder; Longs Peak Pub in Longmont; and Vine Street Pub and Brewery in Denver.
Copyright 2016 Kevin J. Daly
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