Regarding Wage Bill HR 582
Last week the editor of a restaurant trade magazine sent me a list of questions related to the Raise the Wage Act (HR 582) she hoped I might answer. I didn’t get to them in time for publication, but share here in the event someone stumbles this way.
In summary, HR 582 would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years.
1. Do you think HR 582 would hurt the restaurant industry as the NRA issued in a statement today? Why or Why not?
There are always businesses on the precipice of failure who will scream loudly when something like HR 582 becomes even a remote possibility – and the reason is obvious; this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. They will – in all likelihood – fail. And honestly I don’t believe businesses that can’t afford to pay a livable wage should be considered legitimate businesses anyway, including my own or any that I’ve invested in. While restaurants in these predicaments will certainly suffer (and there are many of them), the restaurant industry as a whole will be just fine and, in the long-run, possibly even benefit greatly from these long overdue moves.
I had advocated for a $10.10 federal minimum wage (that was the magic number then) back in 2013, providing some level of “catch up” on corporate productivity gains over a 30-40 year period that were not shared with the average worker. I also believed that an annual cost of living adjustment after the $10.10 was implemented was paramount in order to not find ourselves in the same position down the road.
Here’s the TEDx talk on Business Case for Raising Wages if you haven’t seen it before…
HR 582 allows for nearly 6 years from now to get to $15 per hour – by 2025. Had $10.10 been taken seriously and adopted by the powers to be back in 2013, and had that wage been increased by a mere 3.4% per year thereafter, by 2025 the minimum wage would have gradually made its way to $15 per hour.
The longer we delay giving the millions of hard workers what they deserve, the more severe the pain will be to businesses small and large who aren’t doing right by their people.
2. How many employees do you now have, and what is their average hourly wage?
Boloco has about 130 team members.
The average hourly wage at Boloco is currently $15.18, our starting wage is no less than $13/hour in both MA and NH. Our average team member has been with Boloco for approximately 4 years. Our average manager, who averages about $65K, has been with Boloco for approximately 11 years.
While we continue to be ahead of most in our industry (other than areas where minimum wage has risen to above $13/hour), our people don’t lead easy lives at these rates. Even $15 doesn’t make the challenges disappear, it simply allows them to pay a few extra bills on a more timely basis. It’s a good start, no doubt, but once you get to $15, at least in New England, you quickly realize that far more needs to be done. In some areas of the country where costs of living are less, $15 will be a signifiant game changer.
A recent interview I did at Tugboat is here if interested, related to wages and doing what’s right before being forced to by the government: