WBUR: New Year, New Minimum Wage: Some Mass. Businesses Welcome The Increase

By Callum Borchers
WBUR, Jan 1, 2020

Massachusetts keeps chugging toward a $15 minimum wage. Next stop: $12.75. ...

"We do it because it's the right thing to do," said Rob Everts, co-CEO of Equal Exchange in West Bridgewater. "It's also in our own, enlightened self interest. Paying a good, strong wage cultivates loyalty. Turnover here is low, and that helps us at many levels."

Everts' company employs 150 people, some of whom pick and pack the fair-trade coffee that Equal Exchange sells all over the country. It's the kind of job that often pays minimum wage, but the starting rate at Equal Exchange is about $15 an hour — the target the state aims to hit in a few years. ...

Everts is among more than 300 Massachusetts executives who've publicly supported the minimum wage hike. ...

Cambridge Naturals, went to a $15 minimum in 2016. "We saw our customers really respond to that," said [Emily] Kanter, the company's co-owner. "They felt good about coming to shop with us because they knew we were treating our employees really well."

Cambridge Naturals, which sells health and wellness products, has 32 employees. Kanter said sales increased 11% in the year after the company raised its starting pay.

Megan Driscoll reports similar success at PharmaLogics Recruiting, the Quincy-based talent placement firm she founded. Driscoll boosted the minimum base salary from $38,000 to $50,000 for the company's roughly 100 employees a few years ago — a move that cost half a million dollars in total.

"And I expected, quite frankly, to have a $500,000 deficit in profit," she said. "That is not what actually happened. We made more profit at the end of 2016 than we had in 2015, even though we infused $500,000 into salaries. So, I'm a living example that doing the right thing can be good for your business."

Driscoll said the simplest explanation is that happier workers perform better. ...

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