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Springfield Chamber of Commerce exhibits hostility toward small businesses

In a surprising move, the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield (ACCGS) are now supporting an increase in the Massachusetts minimum wage. As reported today, January 27 on, because the members of the ACCGS pay their employees more than the mandated $8 per hour, they believe that all employers need to pay their employees more, too.

Inductee Dennis Rodman arrives to the Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on August 12, 2011 at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The ACCGS is calling for "measured, incremental" increases in the state minimum wage because it would not affect ACCGS members. While the organization believes that an increase to $11 per hour is too much, they do support a 5 percent increase each year for three years, starting in July. That would raise the state minimum wage to $9.24 per hour. While this may not affect their members, there are businesses that have a legitimate reason for paying employees the minimum wage, such as positions that are low-skill or filled by teenagers.

On the flip side, however, the ACCGS is willing to make a minimum wage concession to lawmakers for something that is very business-friendly: reforms to the state's unemployment insurance system. The organization supports raising the time someone must work before receiving unemployment compensation from 15 weeks to 20 weeks; an allowance by the unemployed to collect benefits for 26 weeks to get in line with what other states are doing; and an easier time fighting what they consider frivolous claims, which pay unemployment insurance to claimants regardless of why the claimants' employment has ended.

However, making this concession will leave small businesses and entrepreneurs out in the cold as they struggle to fill positions that do not merit more than $8 per hour or struggle to stay open with the burden of a minimum wage increase.

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