Op-Ed By Alma Cerretta
Omaha World Herald, Midlands Voices, Oct 30, 2022
As a small business owner, I’m glad that minimum wage is on the ballot.
Initiative 433 gives us all a way to move Nebraska forward by raising the minimum wage.
When we opened Mana Games Café, we knew we wanted to avoid the low-pay, high-turnover, low-morale business model that’s been way too common in our industry — an industry that’s supposed to be about service and hospitality.
I worked in the service industry for over a decade, in low-wage jobs and as a supervisor and café manager. I’ve seen firsthand the ways that low pay hurts employees and businesses.
We pay more than the current $9 minimum wage because every worker needs that and every single interaction with customers matters. Our team is the most important part of our business.
Paying fair wages is the single best way you can show your employees that you value them. In return, our employees are committed, productive, and take great care of our customers.
Happy employees provide better customer service, and customer experience is vital to our success.
Happy customers come back, and they bring their friends and families.
At Mana, we want everyone of all ages to feel welcome — whether you come for breakfast or lunch on your workdays or you are here enjoying games with your friends and family on the weekend. We want you to feel welcome, and that starts with employees who are valued and welcoming.
We want people to have a very fun, community-oriented experience. We want our cafe to have great food and be affordable. We also prioritize buying from local vendors to sustain our fellow small businesses.
We have people stop by Mana most days, asking us if we are hiring. They want to work at a business that’s a good place to work, and they want to work at a business that’s a good place to be a customer.
Fair wages make a business stronger. They also make the economy and our communities stronger.
A person working full-time for Nebraska’s current $9 minimum wage earns just $18,700 a year. You can’t get by on that. You can’t afford all the basics like food, housing, transportation, medical care and daycare — let alone any unexpected costs that may arise.
A higher minimum wage will mean more money for people who really need it to make a living. It will also mean more consumer spending at businesses across Nebraska.
Minimum wage increases are a two-way street. More money goes into worker’s paychecks and more money gets spent by workers and their families at local businesses.
Minimum wage increases will mean that more people can afford to go out to eat, enjoy time off with their family, and be customers at small businesses like mine.
Initiative 433 would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2026, and then make annual cost of living adjustments so it does not lose purchasing power in the future.
I’m proud to stand with hundreds of other businesses in the Nebraska Business for a Fair Minimum Wage coalition who know that raising the minimum wage is important for workers, businesses and our economy.
Alma Cerretta is the co-owner of Mana Games Café in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket district and a member of Nebraska Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.
Copyright 2022 Alma Cerretta
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