Contact: Bob Keener, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-610-6766
This Tuesday, July 24, will mark the third year in a row without an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25. If the minimum wage had kept pace with the cost of living since reaching its highest value in 1968, it would be $10.55 today. There are proposals in Congress (Harkin and Miller) to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 in three annual steps and then adjust it for inflation. Business for a Fair Minimum Wage supported the last raise in the minimum wage and believes another increase is overdue.
Here are some of the small business owners and business leaders available for comment:
David Bolotsky, Founder and CEO of UncommonGoods in Brooklyn, New York, said, “Businesses don’t expect the costs of energy, rent, transportation and other expenses to remain constant, yet some want to keep the minimum wage the same year after year, despite increases in the cost of living. That kind of business model traps workers in poverty and undermines our economy. The minimum wage should require that all businesses pay employees a wage people can live on.”
Camille Moran, Owner of Caramor Industries and Four Seasons Christmas Tree Farm in Natchitoches, Louisiana, said, “A minimum wage increase is long overdue. It’s not right or smart for any business to pay a wage that impoverishes not only working men and women and their families, but also impoverishes our communities and our nation. Boosting the wages of low-paid workers who could then purchase the goods and services they need is the best medicine for our ailing economy.”
Lew Prince, Managing Partner of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, Missouri, said, “The evidence that trickle-down economics doesn’t work is all around us. People are falling out of the middle class instead of rising into it. Putting money in the hands of people who desperately need it to buy goods and services will give us a trickle-up effect. Raising the minimum wage is a really efficient way to circulate money in the economy from the bottom up where it can have the most impact in alleviating hardship, boosting demand at businesses and decreasing the strain on our public safety net from poverty wages. I’m sick of my tax dollars subsidizing money machines like Walmart and McDonald's that are dribbling out wages their workers can’t live on, lobbying against minimum wage increases, and draining the lifeblood out of our local economies.”
Marilyn Megenity, Owner of Mercury Cafe in Denver, Colorado, said, “We opened our doors in 1975, and I know that raising the minimum wage is not only affordable to restaurants and other businesses – it’s crucial for our economy. It's important that all employees be able to make a decent wage, in order to pay rent and all the other costs of living. Our government needs to take charge of this now, just as it did in the past. We cannot continue a minimum wage that keeps even people who are working full time, year round in poverty.”
Jim Wellehan, President of Lamey Wellehan Shoes in Auburn, Maine, said, “Our family business is nearly a hundred years old, and clearly our country does better when all believe that their hard work will bring good results for them and their loved ones. Now, as Bloomberg BusinessWeek Magazine reports, the USA has higher income inequality and lower social mobility than most industrialized countries. If you are born poor, you are quite likely to die poor. Raising the minimum wage is a step to correcting this worsening situation. And the ability of a broad segment of our society to have a bit more spending money will benefit every area of our economy. Our increasingly unequal economic structure has no long-term viability.”
Brian England, Co-Owner of British-American Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland, said, “Have you ever wondered why every time you visit some businesses the staff has changed? Well chances are it is because they only pay an inadequate minimum wage. Instead of paying a fair wage, they are inviting costly constant turnover and unreliable customer service. In raising the minimum wage, we should be moving people away from just surviving. We should be moving working Americans as far away from needing the social safety net as possible. Raising the minimum wage raises everyone up.”
Joseph Rotella, Owner of Spencer Organ Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, said, “As a small business owner and an American, I support proposals to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $9.80 by 2014, because I strongly support workers being able to earn a living wage. America should be a country where no one who puts in a fair day's work can't afford to make ends meet, and no business owner who offers a living wage has to be undercut by competitors who do not. Not only is increasing the minimum wage the right and fair thing to do, but it will also help stimulate our struggling economy by putting more money into the hands of workers who need to spend it.”
* Business owners available for interview in addition to those cited above. *
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a project of Business for Shared Prosperity (BSP), a national network of forward thinking business owners and executives. www.businessforafairminimumwage.org
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