As Minneapolis business owners who pay a $15 minimum wage or higher, we’ve seen firsthand what a $15 minimum wage means for our businesses and our employees. What we’ve found is that it’s the right thing to do, it’s good for business and now we know it is a powerful tool to address the racial disparities facing our city. So we were surprised to see a commentary that attempted to discredit the city of Minneapolis’ thoroughly researched minimum-wage study (“Study showing painless $15 wage doesn’t add up,” Oct 7).
As three Minneapolis employers, investing in our workers is not just warm and fuzzy.
The study’s results, and our own experiences, show clearly that a $15 minimum wage will uplift the economy with minimal impact to businesses.
Two years ago, Giving Tree Gardens raised our minimum wage from $13 to $15. The cost of living was rising and our employees couldn’t keep up. Since we made this change, our business has grown. Through having happy employees and producing a better product and services, we are able to retain employees. Like a majority of jobs these days, our business provides a service to the public. Whether landscaping, making or serving food, or providing care, businesses provide better services when we aren’t cycling through new employees who have to learn the ropes. Our workers develop long-term relationships with the businesses where we provide landscaping services. Because our turnover is lower, our staff members really build relationships with our landscaping clients and get to know every nook and cranny of their properties, which means they provide higher-quality services. It’s good for my business, good for customers, and good for workers and their families.
At Minuteman Press Uptown, our business doesn’t just exist to make money — it exists for the community. After a change in ownership last year, we gave all employees paid sick time and increased our wages, which ranged from $10.80 to $12, to a minimum of $15. We support families and support people who work for us. And you know what happened? Our profits have quadrupled — because we’ve been living our values. There are a lot of people who want to support companies like ours paying livable wages. One result of increasing our wages has been dedicated employees who are committed to the company and want to see the company grow. They see themselves as part of the company. People don’t mind working hard or working overtime because they know it’s in their self-interest to see the company be successful.
Smitten Kitten is a business committed to empowerment and entrepreneurship. We are committed to anti-oppression work through every decision in our business. Living in Minneapolis with the largest racial and economic disparities in the country, paying a living wage is an important model for not only our business but for other businesses. There are a disparate number of people of color in low-wage jobs in this community, and a living wage will go a long way toward reducing economic disparities between white people and people of color. Our minimum wage is $17, because we value our employees’ important work and we want our pay scale to match that. We have seen that paying a decent wage keeps employees around longer. You have people with more ownership and more investment in your business if you pay them well.
As our businesses grow, we always want to grow in the direction of fair wages and continue to pay a standard of living that is fair. For us, it’s tied with business practices. It’s not just a good idea that’s warm and fuzzy and fair. One of the most important things in business is to retain the talent that you teach. It takes a lot of time and resources to train someone to create high-quality products and services. It’s just good business to do good business, and part of doing good business is paying your employees well.
The facts from the study, and the facts from our lived experience, show that $15 is a good thing for businesses and will be a huge step toward addressing the harmful disparities holding back too many families in our city. For us, $15 is a good business decision and something we fully support as a basic standard for all families in Minneapolis.
Frank Brown is the owner of Minuteman Press Uptown. Russ Henry is the owner of Giving Tree Gardens. Jennifer Pritchett is the owner of Smitten Kitten. All three businesses are in Minneapolis.