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Launch sign-on letter calling for at least $8.75, then indexed to inflation

For Immediate Release: February 7, 2013
Contact: Bob Keener 617-610-6766

NEW YORK— Business leaders across New York Thursday called on lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to at least $8.75 and then adjust it annually for the cost of living. The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, ABC Home and Capital District Local First were among the businesses and business organizations that announced their support for the minimum wage hike, contending it will benefit businesses, workers and the state economy.

Mark Jaffe, President and CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, said, “Our mission at the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce is to improve the business climate and quality of life in New York. And raising the minimum wage will do just that. That’s right – a minimum wage increase will improve our business climate, not hurt it. It will help local businesses grow and prosper. And it will improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. The proposal to raise the minimum wage to $8.75 next year and adjust it after that to the cost of living is by any measure very modest, especially in a high-cost state like New York. Boosting pay at the bottom will help boost the consumer sales that businesses need to keep the recovery going.”

Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, which has more than 5,000 women-owned business members across New York State, said, “A minimum wage increase will reinforce our members’ business strategies and strengthen the economy. Too many people forget that workers are also consumers. We must repower wage-backed consumer spending if we are going to repower our economy, create jobs and reverse the decline in our middle class. The typical low-wage worker is an adult woman – such as health aides, waitresses or cashiers. Keeping the minimum wage low, keeps women and families down. Workers who are paid poverty wages typically work for the big chains – not Main Street small businesses. These big chains count on taxpayers to subsidize them by providing food stamps and public health assistance to their workers who can't make ends meet on poverty wages. Raising the minimum wage will help level the playing field for businesses that treat their workers fairly and invest in the communities they are rooted in.”

Jon Cooper, President of Spectronics Corporation in Westbury said, “Raising the minimum wage will provide concrete benefits from Long Island to upstate. Increasing the purchasing power of low-paid workers will pump millions of dollars into our state’s economy. This will provide a much-needed stimulus to small businesses, many of which continue to struggle during the slow recovery. Another business benefit from increasing the minimum wage is that higher pay for entry-level positions will result in lower employee turnover. Businesses will have lower costs for hiring and training new employees, as well as increased worker productivity.”

Melanie Beam, President of Capital District Local First, an independent business alliance in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties, said, “New York has an inexcusable gap between its high cost of living and low minimum wage. Employers are actually paying minimum wage workers less today, adjusted for inflation, than they did four decades ago. That makes no sense. It hurts our economy when big chain stores pay workers so little they have to work two jobs or rely on public assistance to scrape by. Full-time workers should be able to afford the basic necessities businesses are eager to sell, and no business owner who pays a living wage should be undercut by competitors who do not. A higher minimum wage would level the playing field for small businesses in New York and keep more dollars circulating in our local economy and our tax base.”

Darius Ross, Managing Partner of D Alexander Ross Real Estate Capital Partners, said, “Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense in three ways: productivity, profitability and prosperity. With more adequate wages, businesses experience decreased worker turnover and greater worker morale and productivity. Nothing drives business owners like me to hire additional workers more than increased consumer demand. And raising the minimum wage puts more money in the hands of the very people who most need to spend it. That means more revenues for businesses, and a stronger, more prosperous economy creating lasting new jobs. Our workforce, businesses and communities need a minimum wage raise now.”

Business leaders also announced the launch of a sign-on letter calling for the increase that will be delivered to lawmakers later this month. The business sign-on letter calls for an increase in the minimum wage to $8.75, plus indexing it to inflation as 10 other states have done, or locking in additional step increases above $8.75 in future years. 

The letter refutes claims that minimum wage increase will cost jobs, pointing out, “The most rigorous studies of the impact of actual minimum wage increases show they do not cause job loss – whether during periods of economic growth or during recessions.”

Amy Chender, Chief Operating Officer of ABC Home, said, “We are deeply committed to holistic sustainability which begins with our employees and extends to working with artisan indigenous communities to sustaining the planet. ABC Home pays well above the current minimum wage and we are ardently committed for the legislature to support an increase in the minimum wage. Wages are a basic cost of business and like energy, transportation and other expenses, costs change over time. The minimum wage must increase to reflect the rising cost of living. No business is an island. When New York does better we do better, and a minimum wage increase will put a stronger foundation under our state economy. The proposed increase to $8.75 is long overdue.”

New York lags behind 19 states, including neighboring Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, that have raised their minimum wages above $7.25, which comes to just $15,080 for full-time, year-round work. Other leading business voices, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Crain’s New York Business have also called for raising the minimum wage.

Visit Business For a Fair Minimum Wage for the growing list of signers, the full statement and other resources.

* Business owners available for interview in addition to those cited above. *