Business owners divided on minimum wage increase

Ballot petition proposes $15 per hour minimum wage by 2022

BOSTON (WWLP)—A ballot question that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars per hour by 2022 is still in the running for a spot on the 2018 ballot. But it’s runs into resistance among some business owners.

Massachusetts minimum wage workers currently make $11 per hour. But you could get a chance to decide whether to increase the state’s minimum wage on the 2018 ballot. It’s a proposal supported by more than 200 Massachusetts business owners with the organization “Business for a Fair Minimum Wage,” including Michael Kanter, owner of Cambirdge Naturals. He raised his company’s starting wage to $15 per hour and said the move is good for both businesses and employees.

“Employees are happier. We’re able to retain our employees longer,” Kanter said. “They’re able to do better customer service and our sales have grown double digits since we’ve raised our starting wage to $15.”

But some owners are concerned raising wages may hurt their businesses, leading to price increases or layoffs.

Judy Herrell, owner of Herrell’s Ice Cream and Bakery on Old South Street in Northampton is concerned that raising wages will cause manufacturers and distributors to raise the prices they charge her shop for services, which in turn could force her to raise her prices and customers won’t be happy.

“So all my costs are going up at the same time but my sales are flat, they’re not going up, so I can’t sell a $10 ice cream cone,” Herrell said.

Herrell said a minimum wage increase could cause layoffs.

The petition still has several more steps in the process before it gains a spot on the ballot.