With my mother, Barbara Niccoli-Hiltz, I own Juiced, a juice and smoothie bar and cafĂ© located in Hallowell. We have four employees and pay a starting wage of $8 per hour. We support the referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage, and will be voting yes on Question 4 this November.

I hear a lot of restaurant owners using the same tired arguments over and over again when discussing a fair wage for working Mainers: “Wages are an expense, and if my expenses go up, my profits will go down.”

Along with the four employees that are on our payroll that would see a wage increase if Question 4 passes, there are hundreds, probably thousands, of working Mainers within a 5-mile radius from us that would also see an increase in their wage. Restaurant owners need to stop seeing wages as an item that exists on their income statement, when wages in the surrounding area are actually their source of revenue. In the first two quarters of 2016, we saw wages increase 27 percent over the previous year. Did this mean that our profits went down? Not at all. They actually increased.

That’s why I support the referendum this November to raise Maine’s minimum wage. It will increase the minimum wage from $7.50 per hour up to $9 in 2017 and increase $1 per year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020. After that it would connect the minimum wage to the cost of living and would also phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers. The Maine Small Business Coalition and more than 500 small businesses like mine support this referendum. You can see the whole list at www.mainesmallbusiness.org. Please join me in voting yes on Question 4 on Nov. 8.

Jeremy Ashlock

Monmouth

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