FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Let Justice Roll
Business Leaders Minimum Wage Organizers on Victories, What's Next
WASHINGTON - November 13 - Business leaders joined national Let Justice Roll campaign leaders and minimum wage ballot organizers from Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana and Ohio to analyze the historic minimum wage election victories and look ahead to future state campaigns and congressional legislation to raise the $5.15-an-hour federal minimum wage.
If you missed the Nov. 9 teleconference, CALL 888-562-3376 to listen. From outside the U.S., call 402-220-1185.
EXCERPTS from the teleconference:
-- SMALL-BUSINESS OWNER, MISSOURI: Lew Prince, co-owner, Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis:
"The ballot issue won in Missouri by a million votes, in a state where the senate race was decided by about 60,000 votes, which shows just how across the board the support was. My focus was on speaking to small businessmen. It was easy to point out that the increase made straightforward economic sense: Simply put, a minimum wage increase would mean an extra 150 or 200 bucks a month in the hands of people who are going to spend it, and spend it here in Missouri. We also reminded small business of something they already know: Keeping workers is easier and cheaper than finding and training new ones -- you get lower recruiting and training costs, you get decreased absenteeism, you get increased worker morale. And every small business owner knows that the longer an employee stays with you, the more they know about your business and the higher their productivity. The long-range 'cost' of the minimum wage isn't a cost but rather a benefit. And no one could look me in the eye and say $5.15 an hour is a living wage."
-- VENTURE CAPITALIST: Adnan Durrani, president of Condor Ventures, Stamford, CT; venture partner, Blue Chip Venture Capital, Cincinnati, OH:
"From the point of view of a venture capitalist, especially in Ohio. [where] we've invested in over 120 companies, the economic case for minimum wage is closed and shut. It is a sound business decision to increase the minimum wage. We've had way too low wages for way too long. The facts are very clear versus the misinformation that's been spread over the years. Ninety percent of each one-dollar increase in the minimum wage directly impacts the economy. At the top income levels, only 2 percent trickles down into the economy. There's a direct lever in the minimum wage increase. It increases employment. It increases retail sales. It increases the distribution of income. It uplifts all social and economic factors both locally and nationally."
-- REV. PAUL SHERRY, NATIONAL COORDINATOR, LET JUSTICE ROLL CAMPAIGN and co-author, "A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future":
"Before the election, we along with others succeeded in getting the minimum wage raised in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, West Virginia and Arkansas. Now, we've had six major new victories. This provides additional momentum for us to move minimum wage forward at the federal level and in additional states. Let Justice Roll and our partners succeeded in making minimum wage THE values issue of the 2006 electoral campaign. It's an issue that brings people together across all lines. We believe -- and people responded to this -- a job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it."
-- REV. BOB EDGAR, general secretary, National Council of Churches, former congressman, and author, "Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right":
"This election shows the moral values of the nation are coming strongly back to real issues like lifting the minimum wage and moving forward to a living wage. It shows that business leaders, conservatives, moderates and progressives joined together and said if we are going to ask people to work 52 weeks of the year to care for their families they should not be showing up in the Salvation Army food kitchens or in the homeless shelters. They should get enough wages to care for all of their families. The faith community, the labor community, the business community, all sectors of society have stood up and spoken out clearly, that the minimum wage needs to be lifted."
-- ARIZONA: Rev. Trina Zelle, lead organizer, Let Justice Roll Arizona, Tempe:
"People have voted their values. Despite the ever changing objections to an increase in the minimum wage by our opponents -- ranging from identity theft to economic meltdown -- people of faith and conscience understand that this is an issue of basic fairness -- hard work should keep you out of poverty not keep you in it. LJR educated and mobilized the larger faith community at every step on an every level of this campaign -- from initial petition gathering, to voter education to get out the vote activities. The partnerships and alliances that have been formed will continue to function as we continue to work for economic justice for all."
-- COLORADO: Terri McMaster, leader in Let Justice Roll Colorado, and director, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, Denver:
"It was no surprise that Colorado voters wanted to pass a minimum wage increase. The big surprise was the huge amount of money the restaurant and resort industries were willing to spend to fight it, with a lot going to TV ads railing against the idea of putting automatic adjustments for inflation in our Constitution. They even ran a TV ad with a cartoon Moses character crying out to God to intervene so we donâ€™t 'chisel this into stone.' It was clearly our intensive grassroots effort, in which the Let Justice Roll campaign was one of the leaders, that convinced voters that raising the minimum wage was the right thing to do, and kept big-money advertising from winning the day. The Let Justice Roll campaign here included a broad, diverse coalition of faith communities, with the support of more than 20 denominations and religious organizations, and Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders."
-- MISSOURI: Rev. Audrey Hollis, lead organizer, Let Justice Roll Missouri, St. Louis:
"I had never worked on a campaign that engaged so many different people, organizations and congregations. This was something we knew right away would make a difference in our communities. As Let Justice Roll coordinator, we were able to engage 2,000 congregations across Missouri to participate in this campaign. Raising the minimum wage in Missouri gives hope that change in other areas of economic justice is possible." Congratulations and many thanks to all our coalition partners -- Give Missourians a Raise, Jobs with Justice, the AFL-CIO, Missouri Pro-Vote, SEIU, UFCW, ACORN, Teamsters, all of our faith partners and all the good people of Missouri for voting 76 percent in favor of raising the minimum wage."
-- MONTANA: Doug Mitchell, campaign manager, Raise Montana, Helena:
"The Montana minimum wage initiative passed with roughly 73 percent of the vote -- a strong bipartisan statement that is going to send a very clear message to Washington D.C., that even quote 'Red states' like Montana stand firmly behind workers. Key to Montana's campaign -- a volunteer-driven, very low budget campaign -- was encouraging people to speak in their own voices. This was not a divisive campaign but rather a campaign that brought people together. That's why Montanans from every single legislative district and every county voted overwhelmingly in favor of raising the minimum wage and taking politics out of it in the future by providing cost of living adjustments."
-- OHIO: Katy Heins, lead organizer, Let Justice Roll Ohio, Cincinnati:
"The victory for minimum wage in Ohio can be attributed to a grassroots effort lead by a coalition of groups. Let Justice Roll Ohio had a truly interfaith, multi denominational, urban, suburban and rural effort in Ohio -- also bringing in many of the evangelical voices looking for a broader social agenda in Ohio and the nation. CNN exit poll information showed that the majority of all 'church goers' in Ohio from weekly to intermittent attendance voted in favor of the minimum wage."
Mr. Prince and Mr. Durrani are inaugural signatories to the Business Owners and Executives for a Higher Minimum Wage statement available at http://www.letjusticeroll.org/pressroom/ljrpressrelease-10-31.html.
For interviews with Rev. Sherry, state organizers, Mr. Durrani, Mr. Prince and other business leaders, or a copy of "A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future," contact Betsy Leondar-Wright, 781-704-4039 (cell), email@example.com.
For direct Let Justice Roll state contact information, visit http://www.letjusticeroll.org/stateminimumwagecampaigns-contacts.html.
For interviews with Rev. Edgar contact Dan Webster, 212-870-2252, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let Justice Roll is a fast-growing national nonpartisan partnership of more than 80 organizations working for a higher minimum wage at the state and federal level. For more information, visit http://www.letjusticeroll.org.