Contact: Cat Ulrich
firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 630-7839
Feb. 27, 2023—Today, business owners will testify before the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee at 1 pm ET in support of the Fair Wage Act of 2023, and join Gov. Wes Moore at a noon roundtable in favor of the legislation. The Fair Wage Act would speed up implementation of Maryland’s $15 minimum wage so it reaches $15 by Oct. 1, 2023, and add annual cost of living adjustments so the minimum wage does not lose purchasing power. Business owners say this legislation will boost consumer spending, strengthen local economies, and improve employee hiring, retention, productivity and customer service.
Business leaders offering testimony in favor of the legislation today include: Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage; Michael Lastoria, founder and CEO of &pizza, with 15 locations in Maryland; Aaron Seyedian, owner of Well-Paid Maids, which serves Montgomery and Prince George’s counties; Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, with five Ace Hardware locations in Maryland; Courtney Sunborn, owner of Ecolistic Cleaning, which serves Anne Arundel County and Baltimore; and Fran Teplitz, director of Green America’s Green Business Network.
Immediately before the hearing, at noon in the Maryland State House, Gov. Moore will host a roundtable with supporters of the Fair Wage Act and administration officials, including Labor Secretary Portia Wu. Business leaders participating in this roundtable, which is open to press, include Michael Lastoria, Gina Schaefer and Aaron Seyedian.
“It makes good business sense to speed up implementation of $15 to restore the lost buying power of the minimum wage, and then adjust the minimum wage annually so that the minimum wage retains purchasing power over time,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “Raising the minimum wage floor under all businesses will boost consumer spending and encourage the better business practices that help small businesses survive and compete. It will level the playing field for businesses, helping those with lower wages to raise pay, decrease turnover, and increase competitiveness and customer satisfaction.
Michael Lastoria, founder and CEO of &pizza, a fast casual pizza chain with 15 locations in Maryland, said, “We have succeeded in the greatly competitive fast casual restaurant industry by investing in our employees. When you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, and your business thrives. When we raise the minimum wage, it's almost immediately put back into the economy through consumer spending. We raise up people and our communities. This, in turn, helps businesses grow.”
Courtney Sunborn, owner of Ecolistic Cleaning, which serves Anne Arundel County and Baltimore, said, “I started as our first cleaner and I know the importance of livable wages. By paying higher wages we've kept our staff turnover very low and our business growing for 20 years. It saves us a lot of time and money to retain employees who are already trained and already know our clients. Lower turnover also brings increased morale and productivity – and happier customers. Raising and indexing Maryland’s minimum wage will help workers, businesses and communities succeed now and in the future.”
Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of 12 Ace Hardware Stores including Silver Spring Ace Hardware, Old Takoma Ace Hardware in Takoma Park, and Federal Hill Ace, Canton Ace and Waverly Ace Hardware & Garden Center in Baltimore, said, “We couldn’t have grown to 12 stores without our dedicated employees and the customers they serve every day. Fair wages help us attract and retain good employees, increase sales, expand our business, and hire more employees. Improving Maryland’s minimum wage will help businesses hire and retain workers and will help our communities thrive.”
Aaron Seyedian, owner of Well-Paid Maids, which serves Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, said, “It’s time for Maryland to accelerate its path to a $15 minimum wage and add annual cost of living adjustments. Having doubled in size over the last year, I can tell you fair pay leads to more customers, as consumers search for the quality and reliability that comes from fairly-compensated employees. In a sector known for low pay, our success is proof that fair wages are not only good for business, but that they are compatible with every industry.”
Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets restaurants, with locations in Hyattsville, Columbia and Baltimore, said, “A $15-per-hour minimum wage will level the playing field for restaurants and other businesses. Not only does this legislation provide a fairer wage to all workers, it will also create a windfall for businesses that will benefit directly from the added money circulating in the community.”
The Fair Wage Act of 2023 will speed up implementation of the state’s $15 minimum wage to Oct. 1, 2023 and add annual cost of living adjustments starting in 2025.
Without changes in the Fair Wage Act of 2023, Maryland will not reach $15 until Jan. 1, 2025 for businesses with 15 or more employees, and July 1, 2026 for businesses with fewer than 15 employees. There is no annual indexing in the current law.
To arrange an interview with Maryland business leaders supportive of raising and indexing the minimum wage, please contact Cat Ulrich at email@example.com or (202) 630-7839.