Contact: Council President Kevin Kelley
CLEVELAND, June 29, 2016 – Cleveland business owners today testified before Cleveland City Council about the resulting economic damage that would occur if the city nearly doubles its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Today’s testimony adds to a growing chorus of caution voiced by Cleveland business owners, who have said that such a drastic increase in the minimum wage could cause them to close their doors, lay off employees and/or be forced to abandon city neighborhoods.
Business owners have all said that they believe in supplying livable wages for their employees, and also have noted that they often pay additional costs in worker benefits. But boosting Cleveland’s minimum wage to $15 – while Ohio’s minimum wage would remain at $8.10 – would almost certainly economically isolate the city and take momentum away from its ongoing renaissance.
Debby Dabney (Burger King), Mack Danzig (Tequila Ranch), Sam Lindsley (Michael Symon Restaurants), and Sam McNulty (Market Garden Brewery) were among others that took turns outlining how such a drastic increase would impact their business’ operations and it how it could impact the community.
“Michael Symon Restaurants operates three restaurants in the City of Cleveland,” stated Sam Lindsley the Chief Operating Officer of Michael Symon Restaurants in his testimony. “We offer our employees the opportunity to build a career. We provide health insurance and other benefits. We would not only have to increase our entry-level wage to $15 an hour. There would be a domino effect where we have to move everyone up the scale from a $15 an hour floor. Every restaurant in Cleveland is going to respond by reducing staff, raising prices and cutting other costs where they can.”
“I am a homeowner and a taxpayer in Cleveland and my restaurant is part of a family-owned Cleveland company with 22 Burger King locations in Northeast Ohio; I have been with the company for 19 years and have been the manager at my store for 16 years,” said Deborah Dabney the Manager of the Burger King restaurant on E. 55th Street. “Let me tell you what this $15 minimum wage proposal is going to do to Cleveland restaurants like mine. It’s going to increase our payroll expense by 50 percent, maybe more, overnight. Restaurants can’t cope with that. I have a staff of 43 people. If the minimum wage goes to $15 an hour, we would have to cut the staff. And who are we going to let go? The young entry-level people. We won’t have the flexibility to train people who have no experience. A lot of our employees are young people and this is their first job. They learn what it means to have a regular job and show up on schedule ready to work. We give them skills that they can build on.”
Cleveland City Council has the option of passing the proposal, rejecting it, or approving an amended version. If Council rejects it or passes an amended version, it is likely the proposal will be forced onto the November citywide ballot. If enacted, the initiative would give Cleveland the highest generally applied minimum wage in the nation in a matter of months – while the rest of the state would continue to operate at $8.10.
Paid for by Clevelanders Against Jobs Loss, Galen Schuerlein, Treasurer, 3250 Euclid Avenue, #280, Cleveland, OH 44115