Skip to comments.Debate Du Jour: Minimum Wage Takes Center Stage
Posted on 02/18/2014 6:03:16 PM PST by MichCapCon
ANN ARBOR The debate over increasing the minimum wage has made its way to Zingerman's, home of the $15 sandwich.
Zingerman's, the gourmet deli, recently held a "Sandwich Summit" to promote the idea of making it illegal to hire someone below a set wage. The shop supports raising the minimum wage at either the state or federal level, which would make it illegal to hire a worker for less than $9.50 an hour or more.
The market in Ann Arbor allows Zingerman's to charge $16.50 for a Reuben, $14.99 for a grilled chicken Caesar salad and $7.99 for a hot dog with all the works. Washtenaw County has the 5th highest per-capita earnings in the state of the 83 Michigan counties.
Zingerman's invited U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, state lawmakers, local business owners and employees to make the case.
"When somebody goes to work and they put in hours, they work hard, they should be able to go home with enough pay to put a roof over their head and feed their kids," said State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.
Rep. Irwin and Congressmen Dingell have interns on their staff who do not get paid. In fact, most of the elected officials in Michigan advocating for a higher minimum wage offer unpaid internships.
The participants at the event included some college graduates, who were in agreement that earning close to minimum wage in a difficult job market with student loans to pay off is a challenge. Several of those graduates were recent University of Michigan graduates now employed at Zingerman's.
The discussion got more complicated when it came to where the money to raise the minimum wage would come from.
One participant, a coffee shop owner and supporter of raising the minimum wage, was at a loss to explain how he would manage if forced to pay workers $2 more an hour. He wasn't sure if he could pass the cost on to customers.
The timing of the event came at a significant turn for Zingerman's. It recently gave its lowest paid workers a $1.50 an hour pay raise. Marketing Manager Peter Sickman-Garner said it was a sensitive issue with more senior staff, but the company made a big effort to communicate the merits and win support.
While it is too soon to tell how the increase will affect the company's bottom line, Zingermans might be in a better position than others to offset the cost. Zingerman's is a $50 million a year business, Sickman-Garner said. The sandwich shop sells high-end products with larger profit margins. Most sandwiches cost about $15.
Not all businesses cater to the high-end market and their only choice might be to cut entry level hiring, said F. Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
"Raising minimum wage doesn't equal more pay, it means fewer jobs," he said.
Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center, said certain consumers are unaffected by such debates.
"Zingerman's offers lunch for a segment of the population that can afford purchases like $15 Reubens, which would baffle the average consumer," LaFaive said. "But rich people can afford bad public policy better than the rest of us. The solution to this is not a broad mandate that drives up the prices of other shops and hurts non-rich people, but greater voluntary association that allows for lots of options so everyone can eat."
He added that many workers increase their earnings once they gain skills and experience.
Eric Olsen, who works at Zingerman's, is a case in point. He took a low paying job with the deli when he graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in literature 10 years ago, but now he is a marketing and communications specialist with the company.
Upscale liberal Zingermans wants to drive the competition out of business, nothing more.
How does the fact that a worker needs to feed and house his/her children equal a requirement upon his/her employer to supply the funds to do those things?
If an employees needs are greater than their income it incumbent upon them to earn more money not an employers obligation to pay them more.
I certainly do not see any powers delegated to Congress in the constitution to specify minimum wages to be paid by those offering employment. So why is it even discussed by these power mad fools? I suppose this state Representative can persuade his fellow Michigan Liberals to further cripple the economy of his state but Dingell should be keeping silent on the subject in Washington.
I think it’s great that Zingerman’s can pay this much.
And it’s awful that they try to dictate that pay level to a competitor via coercive government.
If you listen to the logic of these Leftist they use the balance sheets of McDonalds franchises to advocate for the minimum wage.
Big organizations like McDonalds have the luxuries of grand scales and corporate research and development backing them; things that small mom and pop organizations do not have.
Larger organizations usually have greater profit margins. These Leftist always say they are the advocates of the little guy so why are they always trying to put the little guy out of business? The huge companies like McDonalds can more easily absorb and adjust to this kind of legislation (they will automate and downsize their work force) but the small businesses will no longer be in business.
That's it. The attitude is that the owners should starve while the employees live in luxury.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) offers a more diplomatic answer:
Our goal as socialists is to abolish private ownership of the means of production. Our immediate task is to limit the capitalist classs prerogatives in the workplace...
We can accomplish this by promoting full employment policies, passing local living wage laws, but most of all by increasing the union movements power... (emphasis added)
Think we are being played?
Can you say “Supply and Demand?”
What I’m hearing is that liberals like the idea of subsidizing a high minimum wage so it “won’t hurt the businessman”.
Sure a multi-billion dollar corporation like Applebee's can absorb the lost business, but mom and pop couldn't.
Ergo, Applebee's runs mom and pop into the ground.
The boss don't like no competition.
$50 Million???? I know nothing about Zingerman’s but I find it hard to believe that one Deli could do $50 mill a year even at $15 a sandwich
. That is more than the average MacDonald's.
As mentioned in related threads, regarding the so-called federal minimum wage, please consider the following. With the exception of the federal entities indicated in the Constitution's Clauses 16 & 17 of Section 8 of Article I as examples, such entities under the exclusive legislative control of Congress, the states have never delegated to Congress, via the Constitution, the specific power to regulate a national minimum wage. It is solely up to the individual states to define minimum wages for intrastate labor.
But also consider that if the states ultimately decide that a federal minimum wage is probably the best approach to defining minimum wage, then the states can always delegate to Congress, via the Constitution, the specific power to set a national minimum wage.
Otherwise, all that the federal minimum wage is, imo, is a good example of corrupt Congress taking advantage of low-information citizens, citizens who don't understand the federal government's limited powers, by using constitutionally indefensible "promises" for higher and higher national minimum wages to win their votes.
Zingermans attracts a very upscale crowd who pay big bucks to pretend they’re eating like the poor folks.
Not at all surprising.
Subsidizing = taking money from you and me at gunpoint as necessary to make their idea of a marketplace function.
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