BELLAIRE – Today's pay stubs at Short’s Brewing Company reflect the future for hourly workers in Michigan.
The brewery increased its wages to meet the state's future minimum wage, which will rise to $9.25 by 2018.
“We just basically wanted to say we’re OK with this and we think it’s a model that can work,” said Matt Drake, the Antrim County-based company's chief operating officer.
It started with an email from the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce that gauged members’ views on minimum wage increases. Most Short’s workers already made above current minimum wage, $7.40, but the brewery’s leaders thought they could do better.
“That also gave us sort of a mindset of taking it as a challenge: why don’t we just do this and prove it,” Drake said. “We’re already making this effort internally, so let’s get it out there.”
The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce named Short's as one of its top 10 small businesses of 2014. Chamber COO Laura Oblinger isn't surprised the brewery increased employee wages before the deadline.
"You’d have to do it anyway, but when you go ahead and make that move in advance it’s more of a statement they make toward their employee relations,” Oblinger said.
Oblinger said the brewery's announcement could convince other area business owners to increase wages, too.
That was one reason Short's made the move. Drake said increasing Short's wages shows other businesses paying employees above minimum wage can be a good practice because investing in workers leads to success.
“If we treat our staff well, if we reward them well for their hard effort, we’re going to cultivate a better staff and do better as a company,” he said. “If you stick with this career path, it can literally be a career. It can be a great job.”