La Colombe founder: If you can't pay employees a living wage, you don't deserve to be in business


by Todd Carmichael

“I don’t want to be in the business of eliminating jobs,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey told a town hall meeting on Aug. 31.

I agree. We need more jobs that pay a decent, livable wage.

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Todd Carmichael, CEO of La Colombe, at his Fishtown shop.

Todd Carmichael, CEO of La Colombe, at his Fishtown shop.

But that is where our agreements end. Because rather than focus on policies that create those well-paying jobs, Toomey denies his support for the one initiative that creates and sustains jobs above the poverty line: establishing a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Toomey knows a person can’t support a family on $7.25 an hour — the current federal minimum wage. We all do. He said so at the town hall, where he even said “that is why the government has programs to help them.” What he ignores is that companies and consumers need a higher minimum wage, too.

I am living, breathing, profitable proof that raising the minimum wage is good for business and workers.

Our workforce, profitable companies, and consumers as a whole need a minimum-wage raise. If even profitable, growing concerns like a coffee-roasting company can do it, so can others. I’ll go even further and say that unless you pay your employees a nonpredatory living wage that keeps people and their families above the poverty line, you don’t deserve to be in business. And you certainly don’t deserve a tax break for creating predatory-pay “jobs.”

Companies paying $7.25 an hour are cutting corners on human input. They are cheating the consumer by providing inferior services and products, and leaving their businesses weaker, if not anemic and dangerously exposed to competition. Corporations that provide the best services and products are the ones that succeed. The ones that race to the bottom will ultimately lose the race because there will always be someone willing to do it cheaper, or more sloppily, or with fewer quality controls.