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Strong Business Support For Minimum Wage Hike in Advance of State of the Union

Contact: Bob Keener,, 617-610-6766

Washington DC – Business owners from across the country and a wide spectrum of industries met today with US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to discuss the need for an increased minimum wage. Business leaders from EILEEN FISHER, New Belgium Brewing (CO), Zingerman’s (MI), Ace Hardware stores (DC and MD), InterMedia Partners (NY) and 16 other companies and business organizations participated in the roundtable. The President has signaled that he will feature his support for increasing the minimum wage in his State of the Union address on January 28, and business leaders say it's time for Congress to act.

"We've grown since opening Zingerman's Delicatessen almost 32 years ago to eight businesses in Ann Arbor employing 625 permanent staff with revenues just under $50 million dollars," said co-owner Paul Saginaw. "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 is long overdue."

“It’s not just workers who support an increase in the minimum wage,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “What I heard from these men and women who run small businesses is that when you put more money in workers’ pockets, they stay on the job longer which reduces turnover and training costs. Additionally, those workers spend that extra income at local businesses in their communities which benefits the overall economy. It’s really that simple.”

Gina Schaefer, co-owner of nine Ace Hardware stores in Washington DC and Maryland, said, "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 healthy, dedicated workforce and keep more dollars circulating in our local economy."

Amanda Rothschild, co-owner of Charmington's cafe in Baltimore City, said, "Our business is thriving, seeing about 25 percent revenue growth each year, and we believe it is largely due to the above-minimum wages and benefits we offer our 15 employees. We see much lower turnover, better employee performance and satisfied customers. The more responsibly I invest in my employees, the greater return I get from them. An increased minimum wage will help business and our economy."

Participants in the roundtable meeting included David Bolotsky, Founder and CEO, UncommonGoods (NY); David Borris, President and Co-Owner, Hel's Kitchen Catering (IL); Denise Bowyer, Vice President, American Income Life Insurance Company (TX); Brian England, President and Co-Owner, British American Auto Care (MD); Alan Gregerman, Owner and President, VENTURE WORKS, Inc. (MD); Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness, EILEEN FISHER; Leo Hindery Jr., Founder and Managing Partner, InterMedia Partners (NY); Jim Houser, Owner, Hawthorne Auto Clinic (OR);  MaryAnne Howland, Owner, Ibis Communications (TN); Michael Kanter, President and Co-Owner, Cambridge Naturals (MA); Andrew Lemley, Director of Government Relations, New Belgium Brewing Company (CO); David Levine, CEO and Co-founder, American Sustainable Business Council (DC); Carmen Larsen, President, Aquas, Inc. (MD); Lewis Prince, CEO and Co-Owner, Vintage Vinyl (MO); Amanda Rothschild, Charmington’s (MD); Gina Schaefer, Co-owner of Ace Hardware stores (MD, DC); Stephen Shaff, Founding Executive Director, Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council (MD); John Shepley, Co-Owner, Emory Knoll Farms, Inc. (MD) and Holly Sklar, Director and Founder, Business For A Fair Minimum Wage (MA).

“Today's minimum wage is the same as 1950, adjusted for inflation,” said Holly Sklar, Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which organized business participation in the meeting. “If lower wages were the solution, our economy would be thriving. In reality, we need to raise the abysmal minimum wage to revitalize our economy."

President Obama recently endorsed the Fair Minimum Wage Act introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (IA) and Rep. George Miller (CA), which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage in three steps to $10.10 and then provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments. The business leaders attending the Roundtable want Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act. They and hundreds of other business owners and executives across the country are signing an open petition, which can be found at:

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.”

* 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.