Earth Friendly Products’ CEO makes case for $15 wage

Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks doesn’t need to be convinced about the benefits of a $15 minimum wage for one simple reason: She pays more.

And she said she sees the benefits.

Vlahakis-Hanks, the CEO and president of Earth Friendly Products, a manufacturer that makes more than 200 green cleaning products at its Parsippany plant, said the company’s investment in its employees has been fundamental to its success for more than three decades.

Vlahakis-Hanks, speaking at an event with Gov. Phil Murphy, explained her support.

“We know from our own experience that raising the minimum wage to $15 will help businesses and employees thrive,” she said. “We start employees at $17 an hour and provide great benefits while selling our products at competitive prices.

“Investing in our employees has improved our profitability, productivity, employee retention, quality control, customer satisfaction and ability to innovate and grow.”

New Jersey legislators are considering numerous proposals that would raise the minimum wage. Murphy has made it clear he supports the move.

“A $15 minimum wage will not only lift up the current generation of New Jersey working families, but ensure fairness and opportunity for future generations,” he said. “For the more than 1 million New Jersey workers who earn less than $15 an hour, the Legislature needs to act immediately to provide working families with the raise they need to live secure lives.

“A $15 minimum wage is integral to building a stronger and fairer New Jersey.”

Vlahakis-Hanks sees a fair state minimum wage as a powerful tool in stimulating across-the-board economic growth, from the neighborhood corner store to manufacturers such as Earth Friendly Products.

“Raising the minimum wage creates a virtuous cycle of rising wages, consumer demand and job creation,” she said. “I can’t think of a faster, more direct way to boost the local business economy — yes, including sales of our cleaning products — than to put more money in the pockets of New Jersey workers. It’s a pro-business policy that I’d like to see extended to all New Jersey businesses and workers.”

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