Naples Daily News: What will a $15 minimum wage in Southwest Florida mean? Depends on who you ask

By Laura Layden
Naples Daily News, Oct 29, 2020

A longtime fight for a $15 minimum wage in Florida will be decided Tuesday....

Tom Williams, the owner of Williams Agencies, a life insurance business with an office in Fort Myers, is for the change, which he said is sorely needed.

He's paid his starting workers at least $12 an hour for more than two years — and before that his lowest earners made $10, he said. And he has no qualms about raising his minimum hourly pay to $15 over the next few years. ... 

Paying higher wages, he said, keeps his employees happy — and his turnover low.

"It helps with morale in the office," Williams said. "It helps with teamwork. I think companies grow because of a group of people, not because of the owners."

He points out that employers will have time to adjust to the increase as it would happen gradually.

"Listen we're not asking for people to pay their employees $15 an hour tomorrow. It doesn't even go into effect until next year. It's done over a six-year period," he said. ...

Economic boost

Williams, a longtime business owner, is one of more than 150 business owners and executives who are fighting for the amendment through a statewide coalition called Florida Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, arguing it will not only strengthen the state's workforce, but boost consumer spending and help the economy.

The coalition's statement on the issue reads in part, "We can't build a shared recovery on a minimum wage that's too low to live on. Workers are also customers. Raising the minimum wage puts money in the pockets of people who most need to spend it. It boosts the consumer buying power that businesses depend on to survive and grow — a purpose of the minimum wage since it was first enacted to help us recover from the Great Depression."

"Voting for Amendment 2 is a vote for shared recovery," said Milana Walter, the coalition's business campaign manager, in a statement.

The benefits of the proposed hike, she and other supporters argue, will be many and significant for businesses, including increased consumer spending, lower employee turnover, lower hiring and training costs, and increased productivity and customer satisfaction.

The coalition's members include everyone from retailers, manufacturers and cleaning companies to Realtors, resorts and restaurants. ...

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Copyright 2020 Naples Daily News
Statement Copyright 2020 Business for a Fair Minimum Wage

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