There’s no good reason not to pay a fair wage

Posted on May 7, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun

I’ve been alive long enough now to have seen every argument raised by businesses against raising the minimum wage, repeatedly, since the 1950s. To wit: It will drive businesses to close or move out of town; it will hurt other workers in higher positions and they will move out of town; certain businesses, like restaurants won’t be able to afford hiring young people in starting positions, and the always voiced complaint that it’s all happening too soon and too fast. These protestations from business owner’s and their influential lobby, the Chamber of Commerce organizations are the song that’s been sung for more than half a century and yet the U.S. economy has continued to burgeon and thrive, indeed to become the largest in the world for all that time.

It should be noted that at least half of the low-wage workers in Sonoma are employed by large companies: including Safeway, Lucky’s, Peet’s, Starbucks, Staples, Rite Aid, CVS and others. Furthermore, cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, LA and NYC that have already adopted a $15 an hour minimum wage show little evidence of adverse effects to businesses, including restaurants. In addition there are numerous cities across the country of every size planning to go to a $15 by 2020 system.

This is not to say there’s not some validity to the argument made by certain smaller businesses in the of hiring young people, 16 to 18 years-olds for summer jobs or inexperienced starting positions, at a salary lower than the minimum, but graduated to it by a limited time factor.

As for businesses’ other objections, there are studies that counter and refute such unsupported claims and present verifiable data for proven benefits to businesses, e.g., U.C. Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education Study, Oct. 2018.  

No one’s getting rich from a minimum (marginally) livable wage, but the arguments that its benefits to workers and the community at large are far greater and more consequential than those against. Wages in the U.S. have been stagnant for decades, working people, some with two jobs still live at the federal poverty level and those numbers have increased. On the flip side, businesses have never made more profits and paid less taxes. Paying a fair wage to all who work in Sonoma is long overdue.

— Will Shonbrun, Boyes Hot Springs


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