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Harrisburg, PA, March 7, 2016. – Pennsylvania business owners joined Governor Tom Wolf as he signed an Executive Order establishing a minimum wage of $10.15 an hour for state employees under his jurisdiction as well as employees of state government contractors. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 an hour since 2009, is lower than most other states, including all six of Pennsylvania’s neighbors. $7.25 amounts to just $15,080 a year for people working full-time. Pennsylvania business owners and executives in Business for a Fair Minimum Wage believe that raising the minimum wage will benefit business and boost the state economy.
Joining the Governor today was John Traynor, owner of the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, which includes The Kitchen & Gallery Bar, a 150-seat restaurant. Traynor said, “The Governor’s action is a vital step forward. I urge our legislators to now pass a minimum wage raise for all Pennsylvanians. It makes great business sense. Businesses throughout our state will see greater consumer demand as workers have more money to spend. Increasing the minimum wage will lead to greater employee retention, which reduces hiring and training costs, and increases productivity. I know from experience that building a brand with loyal employees is the most important thing for customer satisfaction and long-term growth.”
Charlie Crystle, co-founder and CEO of The Lancaster Food Company, also joined the Governor. He said, “People who put in a full day of work should get a full day’s pay that at least covers basics like housing, food and transportation – but you can’t make ends meet on $7.25 an hour. Investing in staff reduces costly turnover and creates a more committed, productive, healthier workforce, which helps my business prosper. And raising the minimum wage puts money in the pockets of workers who most need to spend it, boosting local businesses and communities. I strongly support a statewide minimum wage increase to at least $10.15 an hour. Paying at least that is good for everyone – employees, their families, our communities, and yes, our businesses.”
Many Pennsylvania business people support raising the minimum wage in addition to those joining the Governor today.
Amy Edelman, co-owner of Night Kitchen Bakery in Philadelphia, said, “Raising the minimum wage is smart business. When employers pay decent wages, businesses do better, customers are happier, and our neighborhoods are stronger. At just $7.25 an hour, many minimum wage workers rely on public assistance to get by. That means taxpayers are subsidizing poverty wages and bad business models. We need a minimum wage that strengthens our economy rather than undermines it. We're all better off when employees have a fair piece of the pie.”
Josh Knauer, CEO of Rhiza, one of Pittsburgh’s fastest growing companies, said, “When you invest in your employees, they invest in your business. When costs go up, but wages stagnate, it hurts workers and customers, undermines consumer demand, stresses our public safety net and erodes our tax base. Raising the minimum wage is a critical investment in our state’s economy.”
“Employees who earn enough so they don’t have to worry if they can afford the gas to drive to work, or live in a decent place or eat decent food are going to be better employees,” said Mark Bortman, owner of Exact Solar in Yardley. “At the $7.25 minimum wage by contrast, people are continually stressed and struggling just to get by. That’s bad for business and bad for our state.”
Pennsylvania businesses are signing a Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement calling for a state minimum wage increase of at least $10.10 an hour that is then adjusted annually so the minimum wage keeps up with the cost of living rather than falling behind. Signers to date include Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, The Lancaster Food Company, Rhiza, Trolley Car Diner, East End Brewing Co., Night Kitchen Bakery, Azavea, Exact Solar, Legume Bistro, Bar Marco, Girard Brasserie & Bruncherie, Arias Agencies, La Barberia, MOM’s Organic Market, Community Heritage Partners, West Side Auto Repair, Philly Compost, Nature’s Way Market, Falls Flowers, BizMiner, Green Heron Tools, Cosmic Catering, Jarvus Innovations, Helpful Hands Handyman, Naturescapes Landscape Specialists, and many others around the state.
The Pennsylvania Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement now gathering signatures can be found at: http://www.businessforafairminimumwage.org/Pennsylvania-Minimum-Wage-Statement.
* Pennsylvania 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.