Job Creators Say Poverty Wages Hurt Businesses, Communities, the Economy
Contact: Bob Keener, 617-610-6766, firstname.lastname@example.org
BOSTON, June 11, 2013 – Business owners testified at the State House today in favor of legislation to raise the Massachusetts minimum wage for the first time since 2008. Speaking at a hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, the business owners supported gradually raising the state minimum wage from its current $8 an hour to $9 this year, $10 in 2014 and $11 in 2015, and adjusting it for inflation to keep up with the rising cost of living in subsequent years.
Among those testifying was Joseph Rotella, Owner of Spencer Organ Company in Waltham. He said, “As a small business owner, I strongly support raising the outdated Massachusetts minimum wage. When worker paychecks don’t even cover necessities, local businesses are hurt by low or falling demand for their products and our economy suffers. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do for the wellbeing of our workforce, businesses and communities.”
“Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense,” said Holly Sklar, Director of Boston-based Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “Today’s inadequate minimum wage impoverishes working families and weakens the consumer demand businesses depend on to survive and grow. At $8 an hour, minimum wage workers have much less buying power now than their counterparts had in 1968 when the minimum wage was worth $10.69, adjusted for inflation. We can’t build a strong economy on a falling wage floor.”
"I have owned and operated a small business employing 37 people for nearly 23 years,” said Rachael Solem, Owner and General Manager of Irving House and Harding House in Cambridge and a recent Massachusetts Lodging Association General Manager of the Year for small properties. “My starting wage is $10 – leading to a more stable workforce and customer service I'm proud of. While the proposed $11 minimum wage would be higher, it will not affect my hiring practices. Businesses hire employees based on the need to use their work to make money. It only makes sense that those working are compensated fairly. This is a reasonable increase in the minimum wage given current and rising costs of living.”
Shannon Liss-Riordan, Founder of The Just Crust restaurant in Cambridge and Attorney with Lichten & Liss-Riordan PC, spotlighted the provision in the proposed legislation that would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to 70% of the regular minimum wage. She said, “I know from many years of representing waitresses, waiters, skycaps and other tipped workers that they face two big problems – low wages and widespread wage violations made much easier by the abysmal $2.63 minimum employers are required to pay before tips. We are looking forward to showing from our own new restaurant, The Just Crust, that restaurants do better with poverty wages off the menu.”
“As a successful and market-oriented businessman, I know that an efficient business can easily accommodate a rise in the minimum wage in Massachusetts,” said Dean Cycon, founder and CEO of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company in Orange, whose entry level wage is $11 an hour. “I am committed to the integrity of our business by treating workers respectfully and rewarding them fairly for their efforts. I am committed to the integrity of our local community by insuring that our workforce can afford to shop locally and keep the local stores in business. The overdue raise in the minimum wage will make a meaningful difference for the workforce and the economy.”
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage has recently launched a sign-on statement for business people supporting an increase in the Massachusetts minimum wage. It may be found here: http://www.businessforafairminimumwage.org/Massachusetts-Minimum-Wage-Statement.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage summarizes extensive research that refutes claims that increasing the minimum wage causes increased unemployment in Research Shows Minimum Wage Increases Do Not Cause Job Loss.
* Business owners available for interview in addition to those quoted. *
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a Boston-based, national network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.