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Washington DC, February 26, 2014 – Today, business leaders joined Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn, Rosa DeLauro and George Miller, lead sponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, to call for Congress to approve a minimum wage increase to $10.10 over three years.
Hundreds of business organizations, owners and executives – from Costco, Eileen Fisher, Dansko, New Belgium Brewing and Ben & Jerry’s to Organic Valley, Parnassus Investments, Seventh Generation, Zingerman’s, Spectronics Corporation, UnCommon Goods and small businesses across the nation – have signed the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement supporting a minimum wage increase, and more are signing every day.
Jon Cooper, owner and president, Spectronics Corporation, Westbury, NY, the world's leading manufacturer of ultraviolet equipment and fluorescent materials, spoke at the event. He said, “Fair wages are part of the formula for success at my company. If the minimum wage had been automatically adjusted for inflation since the 1960s, businesses would be paying $10.74 today. My father founded our company in 1955, and he’d certainly agree it’s not right that minimum wage workers are paid less today than they were a half century ago. Raising the minimum wage is a long-overdue investment in our economy.
Jeff Furman, Chairman of the Board of Ben & Jerry’s, attending today's event, said, “At Ben & Jerry’s, paying fair wages is part of our recipe to maintain our position as a highly profitable company. Ben & Jerry's has a long-term deeply held commitment to paying at least a living wage to all its employees. Currently this is $16.13 an hour in Vermont and is adjusted annually. We support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 to enhance the ability of all workers to meet their basic needs and strengthen the economy.”
Carmen Ortiz Larsen, owner of Aquas Inc. and Vice President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Montgomery County, also spoke at today's event. She said, "In the past, we hired entry-level people at near minimum wage. We learned this resulted in their personal financial problems impacting the quality of the work they produced and their ability to stay the course. Today, our lowest wage is $10 an hour. As a result, my staff is reliable, I have good retention rates, a good product, and good staff morale. My customers are happier. My corporate expenses have decreased, and I spend less time and money replacing and retraining staff. In short, my company is better because of this change. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 and then adjusting it yearly to keep up with the cost of living will strengthen business and the economy."
Another business owner in attendance, Paul Saginaw, co-owner of Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI, said, “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.”
"Today’s federal minimum wage is the same as it was in 1950, adjusted for inflation – hurting working families, businesses and our economy,” said Holly Sklar, Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, at the Capitol Hill event. “Instead of raising wages, Walmart, McDonald’s and other low-paying companies are pointing workers to charity and taxpayer-funded public assistance. We can’t build a strong economy on downwardly mobile wages. It's past time to give America a raise."
David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, which with its member organizations represents more than 200,000 businesses across the country, said, “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.”
The Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement now gathering signatures can be found at: http://www.businessforafairminimumwage.org/Federal-Sign-On-Statement.
* Business owners available for interview across the country 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.
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