Total Wines’s owner backs US federal minimum wage hike

The owner of Total Wines, who was elected to Congress in last November’s mid-terms, has thrown his weight behind a US bill to more than double the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 – although a local newsite claims some of Total Wine employees are currently paid below the proposed new level.

David Trone (Photo: Total Wine & More)

The new Democratic Congressman, who founded Total Wines with his brother in 1985, said he would vote the pass the Raise the Wage Act, which he helped co-sponsor, that aims to raise the federal minimum wage from around $7.25 an hour to $15.

Posting an image on his Facebook page on Monday the Congressman and member of the Education and Labor Committee said there was “No place in America where a full-time worker [on] $7.25 an hour can afford the basic essentials”.

Trone added, “It’s time we stand up for the American worker and #FightforFifteen.”

He previously said it “made sense for business and was the right thing to do” and his website describes it as a “false choice” to choose between paying fair wages and remaining competitive.

“Paying our employees more is an investment in our people. And when you invest in people, you get great returns on that investment. It’s time that Congress took the same approach by investing in the American people.

“During his campaign, Trone was endorsed by the largest federal employee union, AFGE, as a lifelong supporter of workers. “He supports providing federal workers with the pay raises and benefits they deserve and opposes cutting funding for federal programs and services that all Americans rely on,” it said.

In a Facebook post last month, he said he “learned very early on that paying a fair wage is a win-win. It’s not just the right thing to do – it’s the key to success.”

“Higher wages lead to lower employee turnover and reduced recruiting and training costs. And at the end of the day, it leads to happier customers.”

However, according to Maryland news and politics site A Miner Detail, Total Wines’ current average salary currently falls slightly shy of the proposed new minimum wage, paying its employees around the $12 mark (a sum that was proposed as the federal minimum wage in 2015 that failed to make it into law) – although this is still well above the current national minimum.

The site quotes employment search engine Indeed.com listing the average retail sales associate at Total Wines as approximately $11.69 – although noting that the salary figures are approximate and based on third-party submissions.

The bill was introduced in January. As well as raising the minimum wage for the first time in ten years, the changes would sweep away a federal law that allows employers to pay workers who receive a tip, such as those working in the hospitality industry, less than this figure, or around $2.13 an hour.

Some US states have already adopted the higher figure, but if passed the bill would be applicable across all 50 states. However the issue has been divisive, with many Republicans arguing that the move would destroy small businesses. Previous attempts to raise the wage floor have failed, with some business groups lobbying aggressively against it. The last time changes were proposed calling for a $12 federal minimum wage in 2015, it was blocked.

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