SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

June 26, 2013

Waging debate

Business owners fear effects of minimum wage hike

For the owners of Bacci Chocolate Design in Swampscott, a hike in the minimum wage could take a real bite out of their profit margin.

“It’s going to eat into everyone’s margins,” said Carlo Bacci, of Reading.

In fact, he and his wife are so concerned about a Senate proposal, which would gradually raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2015, that they submitted testimony against it to lawmakers.

Bacci and his wife, Erin Calvo-Bacci, say they pay their new hires a few dollars more than minimum wage. They operate a candy factory on Columbia Street in Swampscott and The Chocolate Truffle candy store in Reading. At this time of year, they have just three employees in Swampscott, including one who is part time, and the retail store employs about five people. In late August, the business hires four to five seasonal employees to gear up for the holidays.

If minimum wage goes up, however, the Baccis say they’d need to raise their employees’ salaries to stay competitive. And that, they say, would add to their rising cost of doing business, which includes everything from unemployment insurance requirements to the increased cost of peanut butter for their peanut butter cups.

“Increasing the minimum wage will not improve our commonwealth’s economy because we know that even if the minimum wage goes to $11 (an) hour, it will not help a primary financial provider survive. What is going to help them survive is having skill sets that are valued at a higher rate than minimum wage,” Calvo-Bacci wrote in her testimony to the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Marc Pacheco of Taunton, would increase the state minimum wage from $8 to $11 at a time when President Barack Obama is proposing to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. Pacheco’s bill would increase the state minimum wage to $9 an hour 90 days after the bill becomes law; $10 an hour on July 1, 2014; and $11 an hour on July 1, 2015.

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