A Feb. 12 letter in the Daily Herald criticized Sen. Dick Durbin, President Obama and Gov. Pat Quinn for supporting a minimum-wage increase, claiming that doing so will be bad for business. I'm the owner of a thriving small business with 25 full-time and 80 part-time and seasonal workers. I pay all of my employees a living wage, and I'm here to tell you that letter writer is wrong.
The current bill in Congress will raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over two years and then adjust to inflation. If enacted, it will add a much-needed boost to GDP of over $22 billion in the next two years. That is money that could have been spent at Sears, Dominicks, and yes, even Sam's Club -- as well as my local business.
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A century ago, the great titan of American business Henry Ford doubled his workers' wages. He did this for two reasons: 1) high turnover was affecting his product's quality, and, 2) he wanted his employees to be able to buy the product they spent their day making. Ford understood a basic business truth -- that any healthy economy needs to have a sustainable amount of money running through it in order to grow.
I agree. I have owned Hel's Kitchen Catering for 29 years. Obviously we need to post profits, but my starting wage of $10 an hour doesn't keep that from happening. Smart employers understand that paying a fair wage has allows us to keep good employees and cut down on costly turnover; some of my people have been with me the better part of two decades. Raising the minimum wage is a pro-business move. We could use more leadership like that at all levels of government.