Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chamber CEO supports minimum wage hike

Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, argues in today’s Times Union that raising the minimum wage is good for both workers and business.
The number one problem for our member businesses is that the recovery is slow because sales are still weak. Too many of their customers have been out of work or are working for lower pay or are fearful about their economic future, and as a result have cut back on their spending. Raising the minimum wage puts dollars in the pockets of the workers who are by necessity most likely to spend them immediately in the local economy.

Minimum wage workers are not taking fancy trips overseas or making investments on Wall Street. They are spending their paychecks at the grocery store, the pharmacy, the auto-repair shop and other local businesses.
Too many people forget that workers are also consumers. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of our economy, and 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.
Ms. Dorfman also makes another interesting point regarding small businesses and large chain stores:
Many of my members were once employees themselves. They know that the typical low-wage worker is an adult woman. Think of your waitress at Applebee's or the cashier who rings you up at Walmart or the health aide who helps your mother or grandfather.

Our members know that New York's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — just $15,080 for full-time, year-round work — is too low. They know that keeping the minimum wage low, keeps women and families down.

And, contrary to the long disproved claims of minimum wage opponents, the most rigorous studies of the impact of actual minimum wage increases show they do not cause job loss. In our experience, workers who are paid poverty wages work overwhelmingly for the big chains, not for Main Street businesses.

In fact, the big chains count on responsible employers and taxpayers to subsidize them by providing food stamps and public health assistance to their workers who can't make ends meet on poverty wages.

The reality is that my members and other Main Street businesses have a lot in common with low-wage workers: both are being squeezed by the national chains. Raising the minimum wage to a more realistic amount helps level the playing field for businesses like my members that believe in treating their workers fairly and investing in the communities they are rooted in. It's past time for New York to join the 18 states that have raised their minimum wages above $7.25. Increasing the minimum wage will help small businesses like my members by putting more money in the pockets of New Yorkers, which will boost spending in the local economy. It will help level the playing field. And it will bring fairer pay to New York's working men and women.
The entire column is here.