Jon Cooper: Force Others to Do What I Do Voluntarily
“This is great news. Raising the minimum wage will help America succeed,” said Jon Cooper, the President of Spectronics Corporation in Westbury, NY. “Employers like me need to do our part by paying a decent minimum wage – closer to what our counterparts paid in the 1960s. At my company, the world’s leading manufacturer of ultraviolet equipment and fluorescent materials, fair wages are part of our formula for success.”
This is from “Business Owners Welcome White House Support for $10 Minimum Wage” on the Reuters web site. If you don’t look carefully, you might think that this is a Reuters story, as I did at first. But the fine print above–and I do mean fine–says “Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.” I’ve gotten used to reporters recycling press releases of various interest groups in and out of government. This is something I hadn’t seen: Reuters simply reprints a press release.
On to the content. “Employers like me need to do our part by paying a decent minimum wage,” says Jon Cooper. OK. So why doesn’t he? Why does he need a law to force him to do what he says he should do? He hints at it in the last sentence: “fair wages are part of our formula for success.”
And it’s clear from context that “fair wages” means wages substantially above the current federal minimum of $7.25. So it’s reasonable to conclude that he already pays well above $7.25 and probably above $10.00. But I did a little homework and found the following from a 2009 story:
Cooper, 54, grew up on Long Island. His family started Spectronics, a maker of ultraviolet lighting that he now runs, in 1955. It’s a union shop, with 165 employees and a 100,000-square-foot factory, one of the last big manufacturers left on Long Island.
If it’s a union shop, I’ll lay 10 to 1 odds that the lowest wage the company pays in greater than or equal to $10. Which means that the higher minimum Jon Cooper advocates would not force him to pay a dime more than he’s paying.
So then why advocate increasing the minimum wage? One possibility is that he believes in it and realizes that it won’t hurt him at all but will strengthen his standing with the Democrats in his state. (Why would he want to do that. Read the 2009 piece.) My gut feel is that that’s the most likely possibility.
There’s another possibility that is less likely because his competitors probably pay more than $10 an hour already also. But if some of them don’t, raising the minimum would hurt them and help Jon Cooper. If so, then Jon Cooper’s second sentence should have read:
Raising the minimum wage will help me succeed.