When the idea of a $15 minimum wage came up Matt Navarre, owner of MSN Media, a local small business here in Portland, thought it was a no brainer. He said in a very straightforward manner,
The current minimum wage is not even close to a living wage. People have to be able to pay their bills and survive.
MSN Media has taken on three employees so far, and also uses several contractors to create custom software for public heath and other Multnomah County and the State of Oregon government agencies, as well as private company clients. All employees and contractors who work for MSN Media make at least $15 per hour, and all employees are provided with health insurance through the company. In fact, the lowest paid employee, a trainee, starts at $15/hr. Navarre says that it is not just a matter of whether his company can afford to pay a living wage, but that as a business owner who has chosen to grow his business by taking on employees paying a living wage is his responsibility. When asked about this sense of responsibility and why he endorses a $15/hr minimum wage for all all workers in the City of Portland and the State of Oregon, Navarre reiterated,
We support a raise in the minimum wage to $15 because the current minimum is not close to a living wage. As an employer, part of my responsibility is to look after the fiscal health of my staff, and ensure they have a living wage.
Navarre says he sees the benefit that paying a living wage has on his own staff, and he believes that a $15/hr minimum wage for the whole city will benefit both his own business and the workers of Portland:
This will benefit my business, the happiness of my staff, and the citizens of Portland. The higher wage will give me a greater pool of people to hire as future employees, and a wider, better range of potential clients.
In this comment Navarre touches on some of the myths and propaganda that has been created by Big Business to elicit fear at the thought of raising the minimum wage, primarily the scapegoating of small businesses. We are told that raising the minimum wage will be bad for small businesses, that they will be forced to move to neighboring cities with lower wages, or else close down. Either way jobs will be lost.
But Navarre understands the when the minimum wage is increased, the outcome is actually the opposite of the doomsday scenarios painted by Big Business in their attempts to amass and cling to the wealth created by their workers. He understands that when employees are paid well they perform better and increase their productivity, which saves companies money. He gets that when workers make a living wage they can pay their bills and have extra money to spend. He knows that this benefits local businesses and increases their sales and profits. He understands that a $15/hr living wage is good for everyone. It is good for workers, it is good for businesses, and it will be good for the whole City of Portland and the whole State of Oregon.