Transcript: US Women’s Chamber of Commerce Margo Dorfman’s press briefing remarks on the Fair Minimum Wage Act – March 3, 2014

Partial transcript of press conference remarks by Margo Dorfman, CEO of U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, on the introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 to raise the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016. The press conference was held on March 3, 2014:

Thank you. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be here to address this very important issue.

People who argue against raising the minimum wage often claim that they want to protect the interests of small businesses.

Well, I am the CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, which has more than 500,000 members most of whom are small business owners, and I can assure you that raising the minimum wage would help their businesses and not hurt them.

The biggest problem that I hear from my members is that the economic recovery is slow because sales are still weak.

Too many people forget that workers are also consumers and wages are at the heart of consumer demand. Raising the minimum wage puts dollars in the pockets of people who by necessity most likely spend them immediately at the grocery store, the child care provider, the auto repair shop, and other local businesses.

Raising the minimum wage boosts the economy from the bottom up, which is exactly what we need to re-power our economy and create lasting jobs.

Our members know that the $7.25 an hour minimum wage is a poverty wage. It amounts to just $15,000 a year for full-time work.

Women-owned firms already tend to pay above the minimum wage. This is because women owners understand and value security for employees and their families.

And our members know that when businesses invest in their workforces with decent compensation, they enjoy the benefits of a dedicated workforce with less turnover, which reduces recruitment and training costs and produces higher productivity and better customer service.

Many of my members were once employees themselves. They know that the typical low-wage worker is an adult woman. Think of your waitress or cashier at the chain stores. Think of the child care worker who takes care of your children or the health aide who helps your mother or your grandfather.

Our members know that raising the minimum wage helps woman workers and business owners succeed. 17 million women will get a raise under the Harkin-Miller proposal.

In our experience, workers who are paid poverty wages work overwhelmingly for the big national and international chains, not for Main Street businesses. In fact, big corporations that pay poverty wages count on small businesses and taxpayers to subsidize them by providing food stamps and other forms of public assistance to workers and their families who can’t make ends meet. And that’s just not right.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that employees are paid a fair minimum wage. It is an unsustainable and dangerous downward spiral to push American workers into poverty and expect taxpayers to pick up the bill for the consequences.

Raising the minimum wage would assure taxpayers that businesses are playing fair and compensating workers at responsible levels.

The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the Harkin-Miller proposal to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

And when we raise the minimum wage, we should index it to the cost of living. It’s common sense. It’s much better for my members if there are small regular increases than long stretches without a raise followed by larger increases that leave them scrambling to make up for the lost ground.

Thank you.

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