Small businesses: Making the case for livable wages

If you listen to the news, you’ll hear over and over again the narrative of “business vs. the working people”. Admittedly, you’ll hear it on this blog too because often, the very things that workers care about, the very benefits that help sustain their families, are the very benefits businesses oppose. Benefits like paid sick leave, a livable wage law, wage theft recovery, and others. Businesses complain that these benefits eat up too much of their profit and drive up costs to consumers. Now more and more research is pointing to the fact that not all businesses are the same. It may be more of a function of how big a business is.

877According to a June, 2015 Gallup Poll, small businesses are one of the most popular institutions in the U.S., weathering the tide of dissatisfaction that is eroding public confidence in most other institutions. And for good reasons. Small businesses employ more than half of working Americans according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and are responsible for more job creation than start-ups or big businesses.

In fact, new research finds that the benefits most sought by workers actually profit businesses, leading many small businesses to embrace the very policies that big businesses, and their cache of lobbyists, disparage.

One such report was recently released by The Main Street Alliance. The Main Street Alliance is an organization made up of small businesses across the US and works to provide small businesses a voice on the most pressing public policy issues. Their report, “Voices of Main Street is the accumulation of data from their national poll of small businesses and it reveals important insights into what these important economic drivers want.

For instance, when asked about the economy and taxes, small business owners surprisingly reported that they needed more customers, not lower taxes or fewer regulations, to create more jobs. Less surprising was the finding that small businesses wanted big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and were supportive of eliminating loopholes that led to an uneven playing field for them. On job quality and workplace issues the majority of small business owners supported a national policies for paid family and medical leave as well as earned paid sick days. Likewise, they supported raising the minimum wage because anyone working full time should not live in poverty. Here, in Florida, when polled on state specific issues, 75% of the respondents supported legislation to promote more equable hiring practices. These were just a few of the findings of the nationwide poll.

Let me be clear, you will still hear corporations being taken to task on the Fight Blog for putting profits ahead of the workers that create those returns, but we applaud organizations like Main Street Alliance who are willing to challenge the narrative and create a new narrative: a narrative of shared prosperity where working people, and the companies they work for, can both profit.