Daily Hampshire Gazette: Supporters, opponents of $15 minimum wage testify before state legislators

By M.J. Tidwell
Daily Hampshire Gazette, September 22, 2017

BOSTON — Proponents of a bill to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021 spoke at a Statehouse hearing this week about the difficulties of living off the current $11 standard. But they also sympathized with business owners.

Filed by the late state Sen. Ken Donnelly, D-Arlington, and state Rep. Dan Donahue, D-Worcester, the bill is backed by Raise Up Massachusetts and Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, coalitions of community organizers, religious groups, labor unions and business owners. ... 

At a press briefing before the Tuesday hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, supporters directed some of their statements to business owners, saying, “It’s OK” if they can’t get to $15 right away, and that’s why statewide legislation is key.

“I think it’s absolutely OK,” Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, told the Gazette. “It’s OK to say, ‘I cannot do this on my own.’”

Sklar pointed out that Massachusetts has one of the highest minimum wages in the country and that many business owners already pay most of their employees above the minimum. However, she said that’s difficult to do for all employees in a cost-competitive environment without statewide legislation. “Raising the statewide floor evens the playing field,” Sklar said. ...

Charlemont resident and Zoar Outdoor co-owner Bruce Lessels expressed his support in a statement to Business for a Fair Minimum Wage: “In our line of work, teamwork is everything. If employees feel valued, they will provide the best service we can offer our customers. The minimum wage should set a fair floor under workers’ pay.” ...

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Copyright 2017 Daily Hampshire Gazette

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