Business Owners Testify in Support of $15 at D.C. Council Hearing on Minimum Wage Hike

CONTACT: Erin Musgrave, (530) 864-7014, [email protected]

Washington, D.C. May 26, 2016 — Local business owners testified today in support of raising Washington, D.C.’s minimum wage to $15 at the D.C. Council’s Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs hearing—the first public hearing on Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposal to raise the District’s minimum wage.

The “Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2016” would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 in 2020, and be adjusted for the cost of living starting in 2021. Owners of companies of varying sizes—from local hardware stores to Ben and Jerry’s—testified that paying fair wages helps them attract and retain good employees and grow their businesses. They also spoke about the important benefits of additional money in the hands of consumers and circulating in the local economy.

“We have seen that raising pay at the bottom is good for the bottom line. When you pay your employees a living wage, you are showing them that you actually do value their work, and in return they work hard and want to stay with you. A happy, productive employee who knows our business well saves us money and helps us retain and grow our customer base,” said Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores. “When the minimum wage goes up it puts money in the paychecks of people who most need to spend it – from making rent to buying things they could not afford before from the grocer, the pharmacy, the shoe store, the auto repair, and, yes, the hardware store.”

“All good businessmen know that their most important asset is their employees. At MOM’s, we consider paying a higher wage not a burden, but rather a high-return strategic investment,” said Scott Nash, owner and CEO of MOM’s Organic Market. “Our workforce is more productive, engaged and dedicated. They are happier, have less stress in their overall lives, and feel appreciated and secure. Customers love shopping at places with engaged employees. Raising the minimum wage is smart business strategy.”

“Fair pay is a crucial part of the recipe for success at Ben and Jerry’s. We outsell the overall U.S. ice cream market and our profits are at the top end of the industry,” said Jeff Furman, Chair of the Board of Directors of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. “Gradually phasing in a $15 D.C. minimum wage by 2020 will help slower-adopting businesses transition to higher entry wages because it lifts the wage floor under all businesses affected. And it significantly boosts the consumer buying power that businesses large and small depend on. Raising the minimum wage is a vital investment in social and economic progress.”

“A $15 minimum wage represents a better and more sustainable way to do business,” said Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys & Poets and Mulebone restaurants. “It will not only provide a more livable wage to all D.C. workers but also will create a windfall for businesses that will benefit directly from the added money circulating in the community — the proverbial rising tide lifting all boats.”

“Raising the minimum wage addresses a large problem business leaders see with today’s economy: weak consumer demand,” said Bryan McGannon, Director of Policy for the American Sustainable Business Council. “Consumer spending is at the heart of our economy and with little to no wage growth, overall economic growth is slower, more uneven and much less durable. Our economy will be healthier when the rewards of rising worker productivity are again widely shared and the minimum wage no longer leaves full-time workers in poverty.

"Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense,” said Keith Mestrich, President & CEO of Amalgamated Bank. “We’ve witnessed how increasing the wage in New York and California has helped families and hardworking individuals to earn a decent living and meet everyday needs. But we’ve also seen how it has provided people with the opportunity to support small businesses, helping local business owners to sell more products and services. We believe that raising the wage helps in growing the economy, tackling the affordable housing crisis, and providing for an equal and just society."

“Phasing in a $15 wage floor will strengthen the D.C. economy by boosting the consumer buying power businesses depend on to thrive and create jobs,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “It will result in a more stable, productive workforce, reduce the strain on public assistance programs from inadequate wages, and level the playing field for small businesses that are already more invested in their workforce and in D.C.’s economy and communities. The economic ripple effect is undeniable.”

These business owners and others are available for comment and/or broadcast bookings. To schedule an interview, contact Erin Musgrave at [email protected] or (530) 864-7014.

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