Maryland Business Owners Endorse Minimum Wage Increase: Strong Wage Floor Vital for Maryland’s Economy, Small Biz Owners Say

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage
For Immediate Release:  March 29, 2011
Contact: Bob Keener, 617-610-6766,
bobkeener@businessforsharedprosperity.org
or Tim Bradley, BerlinRosen Public Affairs, 314-440-9936

MARYLAND – Today nearly 60 Maryland business organizations, owners and executives endorsed legislation to raise the state’s inadequate minimum wage to $9.75 per hour by 2013. Representing small businesses in the restaurant industry, retail, manufacturing, construction, auto repair, cleantech, healthcare, finance and more, the coalition stressed that a strong minimum wage should be a state priority because it will boost the consumer demand vital for job creation and promote a strong economy for Maryland’s future.

In a signed statement, the business leaders said, “With less buying power than it had in the 1950s and 60s, today’s minimum wage means poverty for working families and undermines our economy. A higher minimum wage makes good sense for our Maryland economy. It puts money in the hands of the people who will put it right back into local businesses.” The full Maryland Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement can be read here.

With seventeen states already setting minimum wages higher than Maryland’s, the signatories refute the “job-killer” arguments of big business lobbyists and other opponents of the wage proposal, citing extensive research and personal experience that raising wages does not increase unemployment.

The signatories come from Aberdeen, Annapolis, Baltimore, Bethesda, Burtonsville, Cabin John, Catonsville, Chevy Chase, Columbia, Crofton, Edmonston, Ellicott City, Hyattsville, Kensington, Laurel, Mt. Airy, Rockville, Silver Spring, Sparks, St. Michaels, Street, Sykesville, Takoma Park, Towson and Westminster and include organizations such as the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance with nearly 200 business members. Many of the signers have won awards for customer service, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“A minimum wage increase isn’t a luxury,” said Frank Coyne, Owner of Junk in the Trunk, a waste removal company in Silver Spring. “It’s a necessity for workers and our economy. Minimum wage raises don’t go into employee pockets and sit there – they are recycled right back into the economy as payment for necessities local businesses provide. As a small business owner, I call that good business.”

“We’ve been in business since 1978 and won many awards, including Maryland Small Business of the Year,” said Brian England, Owner of British American Auto Care Inc. in Columbia. “Our employees are a big reason why. We pay our employees a fair wage with benefits. But some businesses pay so little their employees can’t make a living. We should be moving working Marylanders as far away from needing the social safety net as possible. Raising the minimum wage raises everyone up.”

Carmen Ortiz Larsen, President of Aquas Inc., a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise Award winner with 32 employees in Bethesda, said, “In these difficult economic times, an increase in the minimum wage is very significant to the individual. The cost increase is heavily outweighed by the benefits of a more engaged and better cared for staff. We as a small business owner community can make the difference for a better, more vibrant community by supporting this proposed legislation.”

“The notion that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs is just bunk,” said John Shepley, co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms Inc, a wholesale nursery in Harford County, and chairman of theChesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance. “I challenge anyone who thinks the minimum wage shouldn’t be raised to try living on it. Raising the minimum wage will move us towards a more stable and sustainable Maryland economy.”

Maryland’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour amounts to just $15,080 for full-time, year-round work, the statement notes. The signers include employers who would themselves have to increase pay if the minimum wage goes to $9.75.

Supporters of the legislation estimate that it would raise pay for more than 300,000 Maryland workers and inject approximately $1 billion in new consumer spending into the state’s economy. It would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers and index Maryland’s minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, something ten others states already do.

Two employers expanding to Maryland this summer are among the signers who welcome a minimum wage increase. Andy Shallal, who employs 300 people at his Eatonville Restaurant and Busboys & Poets Restaurants in Washington, DC and Virginia, is opening a Hyattsville restaurant in June.  Julie Paez, owner of a retail pet store called the Big Bad Woof in Washington, DC, where the minimum wage is currently $8.25, is opening another store in Hyattsville this summer. “Paying employees a living wage makes good business sense,” she said. “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.”

Craig Sewell, owner of A Cook’s Café in Annapolis and former Chair of the Annapolis Sustainable Business Council, which has endorsed the increase, said, “Arguments that raising the minimum wage creates a hardship on small business – and the restaurant business in particular – are extremely shortsighted. The investment I make in my employees pays dividends many times over in customer satisfaction and increased workmanship.”

“A higher minimum wage is a building block of stronger rural communities and more sustainable farm and food policy,” said Rudy Arredondo, President of the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association and a resident of Takoma Park.

“As a financial adviser, I know that valuing employees builds company value,” said Roger Rath, Senior Vice President, Janney Montgomery Scott in Towson. “The minimum wage used to go up regularly with rising worker productivity. Now, productivity rises, and CEO pay goes up, but workers get left behind. That’s not just unfair, it’s bad economics.”

James Ayersman, Vice President of Genesis Steel Service in Baltimore said “Poverty wages undermine our economy like weak steel undermines construction. The costs are a lot bigger than the supposed savings.”

“The Great Recession should have taught everyone that massive income disparities and a collapsing middle class are bad for workers, bad for business and bad for our country,” said Jim Schulman, CEO of Community Forklift, which employs 16 people in Edmonston selling salvaged building materials. “When the minimum wage is set so low that even full-time workers have to struggle to meet their most basic expenses, it drags down our economy. Raising the minimum wage will help lift up our communities.”

See below or visit Business For a Fair Minimum Wage for the growing list of signers and the full statement.

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a project of Business for Shared Prosperity, a network of forward-thinking business owners, executives and investors.

Signers List (in Formation)

Business for Shared Prosperity
Annapolis Sustainable Business Alliance
Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance
Green America
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association
Social Venture Network

Mark Derbyshire, CEO, Park Moving & Storage Co. Inc, Aberdeen

Anne Johnson, Owner, re:Source, Annapolis

Dick Lahn, Director, Annapolis Sustainable Business Alliance, Annapolis

Craig Sewell, Owner/Chef, A Cook's Cafe, Annapolis

James Ayersman, Vice President, Genesis Steel Service, Baltimore

Raymond Carrier, President/Owner, Green Rider LLC, Baltimore

Ida Cheinman, Principal, substance151, Baltimore

Ellen Reich, Owner, Three Stone Steps, Baltimore

Jacqueline Robarge, Executive Director, Power Inside, Baltimore

Ted Rouse, President, Healthy Planet LLC, Baltimore

Geoff Stack, Owner/Sustainability Consultant, Stack Coordination, Baltimore

Erich Steiger, Principal, EcoLogic Consulting LLC, Baltimore

Peter Van Buren, President, TerraLogos Energy Group, Baltimore

Cheryl Wade, Owner, Mill Valley General Store, Baltimore

Patricia Watson, General Manager, alterego, Baltimore

Roland Oehmme, Founder/Landscape Architect, Green Harmony Design, Baltimore-Towson

Harvey Fernbach MD MPH, President, Harvey Fernbach MD PA, Bethesda

Carmen Ortiz Larsen, President, Aquas Inc., Bethesda

Lori Hill, President, lori hill event productions inc., Burtonsville

Donna Zeigfinger, President/Owner, Green Earth Travel LLC, Cabin John

Rob Brennan, Architect, Brennan+Company Architects, Catonsville

Barry Wind, Financial Advisor, Progressive Asset Management, Chevy Chase

Brian England, Owner, British American Auto Care Inc., Columbia

Michael Vermehren, Vice President, RF Valves Inc., Columbia

Berna Rodman, Owner, Antiochia Usa LLC, Crofton

Brian Higgins, President, Green Home LLC, Edmonston

Jim Schulman, CEO, Community Forklift, Edmonston

Charles Newton, President, Newton-Evans Research Company, Ellicott City

Julie Paez, Owner, BBWoof Hyattsville Inc., Hyattsville

Andy Shallal, Owner, Eatonville and Busboys & Poets Restaurants (DC), opening Hyattsville

Dave Feldman, CEO, Livability Project, Kensington

Irwin Hoenig, Owner/LMT, Living Calmness, Laurel

Martha Ehlman, Founder, Tenfold Fair Trade Collection, Mt Airy

Aric Caplan, President, Caplan Communications, Rockville

Frank Coyne, Owner, Junk in the Trunk LLC, Silver Spring

Alan Gregerman, President and Chief Innovation Officer, Venture Works Inc., Silver Spring

Christina Chambreau, Owner/Veterinarian, Healthy Pets and People, Sparks

Bill Monetti, Co-founder, eco-command Inc., St. Michaels

John Shepley, Co-Owner, Emory Knoll Farms, Street

Andrea White, Owner, Sykesville Design, Sykesville

Rudy Arredondo, President, National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association, Takoma Park

Lorena Checa, Architect, Lorena Checa Associates, Takoma Park

Amy Kincaid, Owner, ChangeMatters, Takoma Park

Meaghan Murphy, CEO & CO-Founder, Capital City Cheesecake, Takoma Park

Michael Shuman, Director of Research and Public Policy, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), Takoma Park

Roger Rath, Senior Vice President, Janney Montgomery Scott, Towson

Lynn Richardson, Realtor, REMax Advantage Realty, Westminster

Roger Smith, President and CEO, American Income Life Insurance (with offices in Maryland), Washington, DC

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______________________

Tim Bradley

BerlinRosen Public Affairs

15 Maiden Lane, Suite 803

New York, NY 10038

Cell: 314.440.9936