WDEL News Radio: Minimum wage increase's fate to be decided in Delaware House, last stop before becoming law

By DJ McAneny
WDEL News Radio, June 17, 2021

"It all just makes a difference in the wellbeing of people, and that changes who they are and what they can be for you," said Sarah Titus, co-owner of Wilmington's The Comic Book Shop. "I don't know. People are worth it."

Slated to appear before the state House Thursday, June 17, 2021, is Senate Bill 15, and act to gradually increase Delaware's minimum wage to $15 by 2025.  ...

But a small business owner like Titus, who already pays her employees above minimum wage, said owners fearful of the move aren't looking at the greater picture. Not only is it attainable, she said, but the results create a more lucrative environment for everyone. 

"Sometimes business is counterintuitive, and you're processed and geared to keep lean and mean, and always cut your payroll, and be minimal ..." Titus said. "But that results in a lot of short-sighted thinking, where you're saving money now, but not seeing how that impacts you in the grander scale."

Particularly, Titus said, creating an environment in which employees desire to be results in a better environment in which more customers tend to linger. 

"They need to be appreciated. It's just about making people feel valued," Titus said. "Then they know that they can give more of themselves to the business as well. Because if they're good and they feel like they are really being appreciated, they're going to want to give a little bit more effort into helping customers, and keeping things clean, and being reliable. So it all just, it makes sense in a longer term." ...

With 26 employees in Delaware and Maryland, the Ecolistic Cleaning is more established and less niche, but all 26 of owner Courtney Sunborn's workers are already making above minimum wage. 

"I started as my first employee, so I realized first-hand what hard work and how physically intensive cleaning is, and I knew I deserved a fair wage," Sunborn said. "At the time, I was a single mother of three children, and I needed to make enough to provide for my family. So when I hired my first employee, I wanted to pay them as fairly as I wanted to be paid, and knew that minimum wage doesn't allow for single mothers with three children to survive."

Keeping with the theme of happy workers, Sunborn said her turnover rate was "extremely low," and their good performance translates into savings. Not only do she spend less time training new hires, but their work is so good, word-of-mouth advertising is as effective for Sunborn as any other method. 

"My company has grown every year that we've been in business, excluding one--which was COVID's year," she said. "So it's actually a virtuous cycle; paying your employees more is better for business" ...

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