Business for a Fair Minimum Wage member &pizza hosted a roundtable with Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Deputy Secretary Christopher Lu to discuss the business and economic case for paying fair wages and the need to raise the minimum wage at the state and federal level.
Michael Lastoria, &pizza’s co-founder and CEO, along with several &pizza employees, or “Tribe” members, joined Secretary Perez and Deputy Secretary Lu to discuss why &pizza pays living wages, what it means for their bottom line, how it impacts their employees, their guests and the communities they are located in, and how other businesses can thrive with a fair wage, low-turnover business model.
"No one who works a full time job in this country should have to live in poverty. That’s why President Obama and I have called repeatedly for Congress to increase the federal minimum wage. While they have failed to act on behalf of working people, state and local governments and forward-looking businesses have stepped up because they understand that giving workers a meaningful raise is good for employees and the bottom line. We believe that the sooner we expand opportunity for all Americans and make sure they can earn a decent wage, the sooner we can achieve an economy that works for everyone,” says Secretary Perez.
“We strongly supported the passage of Washington D.C.’s minimum wage increase earlier this year, and plan on being at the forefront of the fight for additional state and federal raises, because we have seen first-hand the business benefits of paying fair wages,” says &pizza co-founder and CEO Michael Lastoria. “We’ve never seen a successful business where the employees didn’t feel appreciated, engaged, and supported. It’s a simple, but critical, concept: take care of your people and they will take care of your customers. When we, as business owners, raise the wage, we raise up people—and with them our entire country.”
&pizza, which employs 490 people, is expanding quickly in the District, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and soon will be opening its first location in New York City.
"Working for &pizza, and earning a fair wage, has allowed me to grow and have more opportunities to do things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to do if I was earning the bare minimum,” says Jayson Harmon, training coordinator for &pizza. “I’ve been able to work and live the way I want to because I’ve been paid a fair wage. Being able to share my story with the Secretary of Labor today shows me that people are listening to what we’re saying as living examples of what a fair wage can do. It’s nice to know we’re being heard and appreciated.”
The conversation was particularly timely after ballot measures raising the minimum wage passed in four states (Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington state) on November 8 with the strong support of business owners and executives in the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage network.