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Small Business Owners Support Fair Minimum Wage Act Introduced Today In Congress

Business owners applauded the introduction today of legislation to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009. Rep. George Miller (CA) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 with more than 100 co-sponsors. Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, is expected to introduce companion legislation later today.The legislation would increase the minimum wage in three 85-cent steps in three years from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour, and then adjust it annually for the cost of living.

“The biggest problem Main Street businesses face is lack of customer demand,” said Business for a Fair Minimum Wage Director Holly Sklar. “With the federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25 an hour – just $15,080 a year — workers now have less buying power than they did a half century ago in 1956, and far less than they had at the minimum wage’s $10.55 high point in 1968, adjusted for inflation. We can’t build a strong economy on downwardly mobile wages. It’s time to raise America by raising the minimum wage.”

Camille Moran, Owner of Caramor Industries and Four Seasons Christmas Tree Farm in Natchitoches, Louisiana, said, “A minimum wage increase is long overdue. It’s not right or smart for any business to pay a wage that impoverishes not only working men and women and their families, but also impoverishes our communities and our nation. Boosting the wages of low-paid workers who could then purchase the goods and services they need is the best medicine for our ailing economy.”

David Bolotsky, Founder and CEO of UncommonGoods in Brooklyn, New York, said, “Businesses don’t expect the costs of energy, rent, transportation and other expenses to remain constant, yet some want to keep the minimum wage the same year after year, despite increases in the cost of living. That kind of business model traps workers in poverty and undermines our economy. The minimum wage should require that all businesses pay employees a wage people can live on.”

Lew Prince, Managing Partner of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, Missouri, said, “The evidence that trickle-down economics doesn’t work is all around us. People are falling out of the middle class instead of rising into it. Putting money in the hands of people who desperately need it to buy goods and services will give us a trickle-up effect. Raising the minimum wage is a really efficient way to circulate money in the economy from the bottom up where it can have the most impact in alleviating hardship, boosting demand at businesses and decreasing the strain on our public safety net from poverty wages.”

Marilyn Megenity, Owner of Mercury Cafe in Denver, Colorado, said, “We opened our doors in 1975, and I know that raising the minimum wage is not only affordable to restaurants and other businesses – it’s crucial for our economy. It's important that all employees be able to make a decent wage, in order to pay rent and all the other costs of living. Our government needs to take charge of this now, just as it did in the past. We cannot continue a minimum wage that keeps even people who are working full time, year round in poverty.”

Jim Wellehan, President of Lamey Wellehan Shoes in Auburn, Maine, said, “Our family business is nearly a hundred years old, and clearly our country does better when all believe that their hard work will bring good results for them and their loved ones. Now, as Bloomberg BusinessWeek Magazine reports, the USA has higher income inequality and lower social mobility than most industrialized countries. If you are born poor, you are quite likely to die poor. Raising the minimum wage is a step to correcting this worsening situation. And the ability of a broad segment of our society to have a bit more spending money will benefit every area of our economy.”

Julie Paez, Owner of Big Bad Woof pet supply stores in Hyattsville, Maryland and Washington, DC, said, “Paying employees a living wage makes good business sense. It helps keep qualified employees – cutting down on training expenses – and helps foster company loyalty, which, in turn, produces higher sales and increases customer retention. It's a win win.”

Joseph Rotella, Owner of Spencer Organ Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, said, “As a small business owner and an American, I support proposals to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $9.80 by 2014, because I strongly support workers being able to earn a living wage. America should be a country where no one who puts in a fair day's work can't afford to make ends meet, and no business owner who offers a living wage has to be undercut by competitors who do not. Not only is increasing the minimum wage the right and fair thing to do, but it will also help stimulate our struggling economy by putting more money into the hands of workers who need to spend it.”

* Business owners across the country available for interview in addition to those quoted above. *

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