FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2014
Contact: Bob Keener, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-610-6766
Washington DC – From big brands like Costco, Dansko footwear, New Belgium Brewing and EILEEN FISHER to small businesses around the nation, business leaders say President Obama is right to call for raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address.
“Today’s $7.25 minimum wage is the same as it was in 1950 and a third less than in 1968, adjusting for inflation,” said Holly Sklar, Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “Harry Truman and Richard Nixon would both be shocked. We can’t build a strong economy on a sinking wage floor. President Obama’s executive order setting a $10.10 minimum wage for new federal contracts sets a good example.”
Hundreds of business leaders and business organizations have already signed the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage open petition in favor of gradually raising the minimum wage to $10.10 as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act and supported by the President, which can be found at: http://www.businessforafairminimumwage.org/Federal-Sign-On-Statement, and more are signing every day.
As Craig Jelinek, president and CEO of Costco, said in signing the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement, “At Costco, we know that paying employees good wages makes good sense for business. We pay a starting hourly wage of $11.50 in all states where we do business. Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty. We support efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.”
[Editors Note: Varied business signers comment below and more are available for interview]
Gina Schaefer, co-owner of nine Ace Hardware stores in Washington DC and Maryland:
“We have nearly 200 employees and our starting wage for sales associates is $10 an hour. That helps us attract and retain employees who deliver the great service that draws large numbers of customers to our stores and enables us to stay competitive. Increasing the minimum wage will help promote a healthier, dedicated workforce and keep more dollars circulating in our local economy.”
Andrew Lemley, director of government relations, New Belgium Brewing Co, Ft. Collins, CO, the third largest craft brewery in the US:
“At New Belgium Brewing we are committed to paying all of our co-workers a living wage so that they can live as financially stable members of the community. We support raising the minimum wage because we believe this will allow even the lowest wage earners in society to take pride in what they do and help grow the overall economy.”
Paul Saginaw, co-owner, Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor, MI:
“We’ve grown since opening Zingerman’s Delicatessen almost 32 years ago to eight businesses employing 625 permanent staff with revenues just under $50 million dollars. Paying entry wages our employees can live on has contributed to our profitability and our annual compounded growth rate of 10 percent. Raising the minimum wage would help break the cycle of wages holding too many working families in poverty and boost our economy.”
Camille Moran, owner and CEO, Caramor Industries, which includes 4 Seasons Christmas Tree Farm in Natchitoches Parish, LA:
“At 4 Seasons Christmas Tree Farm, our lowest paid employees earn at least $10 an hour and we provide a better product at competitive prices with big box stores. Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense. Workers shouldn’t have to depend on food stamps or food banks to put dinner on their tables. At the end of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Scrooge doesn’t just give Tiny Tim’s family a turkey. He gives his father a raise.”
Jerome Dodson, president, Parnassus Investments, San Francisco, CA:
“A higher minimum wage is actually better for business, since it puts more money in the pockets of customers. We have also found that if a business pays its staff above the minimum level, it engenders feelings of loyalty and there will be much less turnover in an enterprise. Less turnover means less training needed, less time spent on hiring, and greater productivity.”
Maryanne Howland, owner, Ibis Communications, Nashville, TN:
“The current minimum wage is not a living wage, which means that minimum wage earners typically must rely on social services for basic needs such as food and healthcare. Since our taxes are paying for these social services, we’re subsidizing employers who pay minimum wage. Not only is it unethical to pay low wages to people who are responsible for your profitable bottom line, it is unethical to make taxpayers pay for these kinds of labor practices.”
Jon Cooper, owner and president, Spectronics Corporation, Westbury, NY, the world's leading manufacturer of ultraviolet equipment and fluorescent materials:
“The single biggest problem faced by small businesses today is weak consumer demand. Increasing the minimum wage is a great way to spur economic growth by jump-starting consumer spending. It will allow workers to buy essentials they can’t afford now, and most of the money they spend will go right back into local businesses.”
John Shepley co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms, Maryland, and president of the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council:
“The notion that raising the minimum wage will hurt business and kill jobs is just bunk. If my small nursery in rural Harford County can profit and grow when paying a starting wage of $10, there’s no reason any viable business cannot do that. Paying a decent starting wage gives us big ripple effects in improved efficiency, customer service and quality. Minimum wage workers typically need to spend 100 percent of their take-home pay. When the minimum wage goes up it boosts the customer demand that businesses need to grow and hire.”
Lew Prince, CEO and co-owner, Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, MO:
“My life is a tribute to the American Dream. My business partner and I started with 300 record albums and a $20 booth at the local farmers market. Today, we are the largest independent music store in the Midwest. Good wages have been good business strategy in an industry that has seen more than its share of creative destruction. While my competition dealt with the costly results of constant employee turnover, constant training costs and the unsatisfied customers that turnover breeds, my employees added great value to my business. Unfortunately, too many American companies have been driving down wages to poverty levels that are too low for workers to live on and too low to sustain the consumer demand that businesses need to survive and thrive. The American Dream needs a minimum wage increase.”
Jim Wellehan, owner and president of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, Auburn, ME:
“Lamey-Wellehan, the shoe company my dad started in 1914, has grown over the years with longtime employees who enjoyed their job and lived a good life. Unfortunately, too much work goes unrewarded today. Paying fair wages at our six stores has helped us succeed where others failed – and win shoe industry awards like Retailer of the Year. The minimum wage sets a floor under worker wages, and wages, in turn, supply the consumer purchasing power that is vital to small business and makes up most of our economy. A higher minimum wage would have good ripple effects from local businesses to local schools. Our tax base would be sounder and our social safety net less stressed.”
Brian England, co-owner, British American Auto Care, Columbia, MD (Awards include Washington Metropolitan Areas Dealers Association Best Automotive Customer Service Award, Maryland Small Businessperson of the Year, Best Small Business in Maryland):
“I recently saw a quote from a worker in a state where they raised the minimum wage and the first thing he said was, ‘Now I can afford a used car.’ This sums up what happens when wages are raised at the bottom end where people need it the most. The money goes straight back into businesses and the community. The money keeps people out of needing the safety net, so we end up with happier and more secure and independent people.”
David Borris, co-owner, Hel’s Kitchen Catering in the Chicago-area, and a leader in the Main Street Alliance:
“For small businesses like mine, the effect that the crash in 2008 visited upon demand was nearly catastrophic. Slowly but surely, we have fought our way back, but the overall climate is still remarkably tenuous. What we need are more customers, with more income. Raising the minimum wage may push our labor costs up marginally in the short term, but the aggregate demand that stands to be created will more than make up for that in increased sales and profitability.”
David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, which with its member organizations represents more than 200,000 businesses across the country:
“The business case and the economic case for an increase in the minimum wage are very sound, and we see strong support continuing to build within the business community. Congress needs to give the economy a much-needed boost by giving our lowest-paid workers a raise.”
President Obama has endorsed the Fair Minimum Wage Act introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (IA) and Rep. George Miller (CA), which would raise the federal minimum wage in three steps to $10.10 and then provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments. As we point out in Research Shows Minimum Wage Increases Do Not Cause Job Loss, the most rigorous studies of the impact of actual minimum wage increases show they do not reduce employment.
* Business owners available for interview in addition to those quoted. *
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. www.businessforafairminimumwage.org.
Inflation adjustments using http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm
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