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owners, CEOs say higher minimum wage good for business
Cleveland, Ohio, October 31, 2006 – Business owners, executives and venture capitalists around the nation – including the states where minimum wage is on the ballot Nov. 7 – are calling for a higher minimum wage to pay workers fairly, boost business and strengthen the economy.
The statement released today calls for raising the wage floor above $5.15 an hour, noting, "Minimum wage workers have less buying power than minimum wage workers had half a century ago. We cannot build a strong 21st century economy on a 1950s' wage floor."
"As a productivity adviser to major retailers, I've witnessed how inadequate wages can create a vicious cycle of high turnover and low productivity, which is bad for workers and businesses," says Paul Lightfoot, CEO of AL Systems Inc.
Inaugural signers include: Eileen Fisher, chief creative officer, women's apparel company Eileen Fisher; Arnold Hiatt, former CEO, Stride Rite; Robert Glassman, chair, Wainwright Bank; Deborah Nelson, executive director, Social Venture Network; Jeffrey Hollender, president, Seventh Generation, a leading brand of non-toxic household products; Peter Strugatz, CEO, IceStone; Jeff Milchen, co-founder, American Independent Business Alliance; Rink Dickinson, president, Equal Exchange, the nation's largest for-profit fair trade company; Peter Barnes, co-founder, Working Assets; Doug Hammond, president, Relief Resources and co-founder, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.
Signers from states with a minimum wage increase on the ballot include:
OHIO: Adnan Durrani, president of Condor Ventures and venture partner, Blue Chip Venture Capital, Cincinnati.
Mr. Darrani says, "I have found that without exception in the successful ventures we've backed, providing sustainable living wages yielded direct increases in productivity, job satisfaction and especially brand loyalty from customers, thus contributing to higher returns for investors/ shareholders, employees and vendors."
ARIZONA: Rick Keefe, president of R-Galaxy, Tucson.
Mr. Keefe says, "Raising the minimum wage is vital because it enriches our entire community, by giving purchasing power to working people who deserve it for their hard day's work."
COLORADO: Marilyn Megenity, owner of the Mercury Cafe, Denver.
Ms. Megenity says, "Workers deserve a living wage to allow them to participate in the economy with dignity."
MISSOURI: Lew Prince, co-owner of Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis.
Mr. Prince comments, "To business owners I say, take a look at who walks in the door and see if putting an extra $200 a week in the pockets of 10 percent of them is good for your business."
MONTANA: Shalon Hastings, owner of Taco del Sol, Helena.
Ms. Hastings says, "We're overdue for a minimum wage increase. It's a sign of respect for our employees and the work they do for us as business owners."
"Investing in employees is the single most important investment that a company can make," says Brian Smith, managing partner of the Blackfoot River Brewing Company in Helena, Montana.
Arnold Hiatt, former CEO of Stride Rite, explains, "In order to create a better tomorrow, we've got to plan responsibly today. Increasing the minimum wage will help the United States create a future with a stable workforce and a strong economy."
The Business Owners and Executives for a Higher Minimum Wage statement appears below, along with inaugural signatories. Sign-ons are continuing through Let Justice Roll, a national partnership of more than 80 organizations working for a higher minimum wage, at http://www.letjusticeroll.org/business-signup.html. Let Justice Roll was initiated by the National Council of Churches USA to seek economic justice for America's working poor and low wage workers.
Let Justice Roll contact: Betsy Leondar-Wright, Betsy@classmatters.org, 781.648.0630, cell 781.704.4039 NCC News contact: The Rev. Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, firstname.lastname@example.org
BUSINESS OWNERS AND EXECUTIVES FOR A HIGHER MINIMUM WAGE
We, the undersigned business owners and executives, support an increase in the minimum wage to benefit workers, business and our economy. We know that a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is simply not enough for workers to afford necessities for themselves and their families. We know that a fair wage floor is essential to healthy businesses and communities, and enduring economic growth.
We expect an increased minimum wage to provide a boost to local economies. Businesses and communities will benefit as low-wage workers spend their much-needed pay raises at businesses in the neighborhoods where they live and work.
Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation. In a recent National Consumers League survey, for example, 76 percent of American consumers said "how well a company treats/pays employees influences what they buy."
States that have raised their minimum wages above the inadequate $5.15 federal level have had better employment and small business trends than the other states. Studies by the Fiscal Policy Institute and others show that in states with minimum wages above $5.15, the number of small businesses and the number of small business employees grew more than the other states -- contrary to what critics predicted. Likewise, after the last federal minimum wage increases in 1996 and 1997, the nation experienced lower unemployment, low inflation, robust growth and declining poverty rates.
At $5.15 an hour, today's minimum wage workers have less buying power than minimum wage workers had half a century ago. We cannot build a strong 21st century economy on a 1950s' wage floor. We cannot build a strong 21st century economy when more and more hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet.
A fair minimum wage shows we value both work and responsible businesses.
A fair minimum wage is a sound investment in the future of our communities and our nation.
(* available to speak with the press)
David S. Gast
Robert (Andy) Bardwell
Lalania Carrillo and Faatma
Stephen Jones Blessman
Gary S. Best
Robert A. Glassman
James F. X. Wellehan
Michael J. Corgiat
David W. Scott and Aimee L. Sanita*
Managing Partner, Blackfoot River Brewing
Dr. Elizabeth A. Letzler
Bishop Stephen A. Scott*
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