WASHINGTON, D.C. – On October 23, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) participated as a guest speaker at the 6th annual Sustainable Business & Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by the American Sustainable Business Council.
Friedman spoke on a panel focused on the role of business in creating policy change at the state level. She was joined by former Massachusetts state Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich), David Fraser-Hidalgo from the Maryland House of Delegates and Mike Mielke, SVP of Energy & Environment at Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
On the panel, Friedman explained, “As a former high-tech executive, I think it is critically important for progressive businesspeople to stand up and speak out. Otherwise, the business owners’ voice in the debate is completely dominated by the usual corporate voices.”
Friedman stressed the need to engage the business community to get behind initiatives proposed by coalitions like Raise Up Massachusetts, which is advocating for increasing the state’s minimum wage and implementing universal paid family medical leave.
Friedman specifically noted the importance of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, an initiative she is leading in the Massachusetts state Senate.
The bill before the Massachusetts Senate, Senate Bill 1004, would raise the minimum wage from $11.00 to $15.00 per hour by 2021, and raise the tipped minimum wage from $3.75 to $15.75 per hour by 2021.
“Massachusetts businesses that have raised their entry level wage to $15 per hour have experienced higher employee retention, greater worker productivity, and a more experienced staff that has resulted in repeat customers and increased cost-savings,” said Friedman.
The Business For a Fair Minimum Wage coalition has identified over 200 business owners and executives in Massachusetts who support the $15 minimum wage, according to a statement released in September. Additionally, over 90 economists in the state have signed onto a statement to express their support.
Friedman continued, “When employees have enough money to live on, they are more likely to spend additional pay at local businesses, helping to ensure that money flows directly back into the economy. Raising the minimum wage makes good business and economic sense.”
The American Sustainable Business Council is a network of over 250,000 businesses and associations working to build a sustainable economy. The Summit brought together business, media, thought leaders, and elected officials in a discussion of how to further a sustainable policy agenda.