Caption: Militant goat union leader Arcadia S. Venus threatens to "eat the National Arboretum" unless the Senate passes a decent minimum wage bill.
One part of the story of the fight to raise the minimum wage that is little-known is that many business people support the increase.
A number of these have signed on to a statement called Business Owners and Executives for a Higher Minimum Wage, which has signers from nearly every state (by the time this comes out, it may be every state).
The statement says in part:
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.
Among the many who have signed on are Jim Sinegal, CEO, Costco; Eileen Fisher, chief creative officer, apparel company Eileen Fisher; John Arensmeyer, CEO, Small Business Majority; and Margot Dorfman, CEO, US Women's Chamber of Commerce.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a project of Business for Shared Prosperity in partnership with the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign.
Meanwhile, Senator Reid has filed for cloture on the bill, which will "ripen" today. What El Cabrero thinks that means is that some of the loonier debates will end and some of the loopier amendments not germane to the bill may be stripped away. There may be a final vote in the Senate this week.
WEST VIRGINIA MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE. Last year, the WV Legislature passed a bill raising the minimum in three steps to $7.25 by June 30, 2008. That was the good news. The bad news was that due to definitions in state code, the law did not apply to businesses covered by federal labor standards (although some of them gave raises too, either through responsibility or confusion).
It's still an open question as to whether the state will amend its law so that future wage increases will cover more workers. There is at least some interest in this in the legislature.Stay tuned--same bat time, same bat channel.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED