Chambers of Commerce Discover Their Own Members Support Raising Minimum Wage

From Forbes:

by Robb Mandelbaum

Skepticism comes easily when an advocacy group releases another poll showing that — contrary to popular impression — entrepreneurs support increasing the minimum wage. After all, these organizations are advocates for raising the minimum wage. But the most recent survey showing lopsided, even overwhelming, support amongbusiness owners and executives for a higher minimum wage can’t be so easily dismissed: it was commissioned by groups that almost never support a wage hike and conducted by a firm with deep ties to the Republican party.

LuntzGlobal, a communications firm founded by über-GOP pollster Frank Luntz surveyed 1,000 top executives (nearly half were owners) and found that they supported raising the minimum wage 79%-8%. By similar margins, they supported expanded parental leave, paid sick days, and paid leave to take care of relatives. They also supported legislation that would ban last-minute “on-call” scheduling.

LuntzGlobal delivered this news in a January webinar to the cohort of Americans perhaps least likely to welcome it: executives from state chambers of commerce. The news evidently took many of the participants by surprise. “When you were talking about raising the minimum wage to the surveyors, does that mean that they are worried about raising it, or do they actually want to see it raised?” asked Bill Kramer, policy director at the Council of State Chambers, on behalf of an official from the Ohio chamber. (Presumably he meant the respondents, not the surveyors.) The council is an umbrella group of state chambers; it hired LuntzGlobal to conduct the survey.

David Merritt, a managing director of LuntzGlobal, backed up to the slide showing the question. “That’s where it’s undeniable that they support the increase,” he responded. “Maybe some interpreted it as, we’re worried about it being raised, but my guess is they are actually looking at raising it as a priority than being concerned about it being raised.

“We’ve actually looked at this issue a number of different ways. We’ve done focus groups on it, as part of policy discussions, and this is universal. If you’re fighting against the minimum wage increase, you’re fighting an uphill battle, because most Americans, even most Republicans are okay with raising the minimum wage.”

Naturally, the only reason we know about this is because a participant in the webinar leaked it, along with the slide deck and the poll results, to the liberal group Center for Media and Democracy, which gleefully published the exposé earlier in April.

The disclosure put the Council of State Chambers in something of an awkward position, since so many of their members have taken positions of their own against all of these labor policies. Why do chambers oppose policies that their members would appear to support? When the Washington Post, one of the few media outlets tocover this bombshell in any depth, asked this question, the answer seemed to be that the views uncovered by the LuntzGlobal didn’t match the views of their own members, even though 63% of those who were interviewed are current members of one or another chamber. Officials of both the Pennsylvania and Minnesota chambers told the Post that their members oppose labor mandates on higher wages and leaves, including the bigger companies that offer them already.

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