Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy Forms Amid Threats to Virginia’s Prosperity

Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy Forms Amid Threats to Virginia’s Prosperity

PRESS RELEASE                                     

DATE:  January 14, 2020                                                                                                                     

Richmond, VA – A diverse group of 21 business trade associations have joined to create the Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy.

The Coalition aims to fight proposals that threaten Virginia’s Right-to-Work statute, one of the oldest in the nation, established on January 12, 1947. The statute guarantees that no person can be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union as a condition of their employment.

“Employees should have the right to decide their employment options and never be compelled to join and pay dues to a union.  As a Virginia business owner, the Right-to-Work statute simply makes good business sense for my company, my employees, and the economy,” said Suzy Kelly, CEO, Jo-Kell Inc.

In addition to protecting Virginians from forced unionization, the Coalition opposes legislation to establish a state minimum wage higher the federal minimum wage.  In fact, according to the Virginia Employment Commission, only 56,000 workers earn at or below the $7.25 Federal minimum wage and nearly 60% are 16-25 years old.  This represents the workforce in training and has declined from 70,000 workers since 2017.

A Congressional Budget Office study published in July 2019 indicated that a $15 per hour national minimum wage would cost 1.3 million jobs.  In Galax, Virginia, Vaughan-Bassett Furniture is the largest wooden bedroom furniture maker left standing in the United States. Like most manufacturers, they focus on an employee’s total compensation, including health care benefits, and the fundamental cost difference between life in rural Virginia, Northern Virginia and abroad.

“We are proud to have survived the threat posed by the Chinese, who were illegally dumping bedroom furniture in the U.S.  We chose to remain in Virginia, where we make quality furniture and create hundreds of jobs.  A $15 per hour minimum wage would threaten those jobs and our ability to compete with factories paying their workers just a fraction of that number,” said Doug Bassett, President, Vaughan Bassett Furniture Co.

Many Virginia small businesses faced with a $15 per hour minimum wage mandate will be forced to cut from other places to remain competitive, including hiring fewer full-time employees, only hiring employees with experience, and reducing employee benefits packages, including health care and 401K options.

“Our family owns and operates a 93-year old, fourth generation hardware store business.  We are deeply concerned over the proposed minimum wage increases and the devastating financial impact such a move would have on our business.  It would force us to hire more part-time than full time associates.  And at a $15 required wage, young employee applicants that lack experience would be out of luck,” said Joe Taylor, President and CEO, Taylor’s Do It Centers and Pleasants Hardware.

Other proposed legislation, such as the bills mandating employee leave rules, will hurt small business especially and cost jobs.

“I do all I can to accommodate my employees when they need leave, but if government requires that I give them up to three months off it would have a dire impact. I would only run two trucks not three, cutting business income by 1/3, ultimately hurting every employee. Small businesses like mine need flexibility to handle time off so it works for us and our employees,” said Brett Thompson, Owner, Blue Ridge Exterior Cleaning.

The Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy’s mission is to educate policymakers on economic challenges faced by businesses and to provide the information necessary to make sound public policy that supports growth in Virginia’s economy. Please go to the Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy’s website,, for further information and how to contact your legislator to promote Virginia prosperity.

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