Lacey company ups minimum wage to $17 per hour

Staff writerMay 29, 2014 

Eco-friendly detergent is blended and packaged for sale during a regular production run at Earth Friendly Products. The Lacey-based company said its starting wage will now be $17 an hour.

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer file, 2011 Buy Photo

Voters in SeaTac approve a new minimum wage, and the battle is joined in Washington.

The rallying cry: $15 per hour.

Elsewhere:   

• Swiss voters a week ago Sunday rejected a proposal that would install the planet’s highest minimum wage at about $25 per hour.

• German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently approved a minimum wage of 8.5 euros, or about $11.75 per hour.

• While workers in British Columbia can expect $10.25 (Canadian, admittedly), Washington remains home of the highest minimum wage in the United States, at $9.32 per hour.

• In Seattle, the city council has voted to delay implementation of a new minimum wage.

However, the actions of cities and states do not mean much at one Lacey company.

At Earth Friendly Products, workers earn a minimum of $17 per hour – and have since last April, on Earth Day. The company produces a large line of environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, executive vice president of the California-based company, recalls the attitude of her father, the company founder.

“I believe in establishing a livable hourly wage, rather than a minimum hourly wage for our employees,” she stated recently. “The memory of those early days in poverty, including a few stays in homeless shelters, still resonates with my father … and led him to make this change across all or our employees’ wages.”

And here’s how this resonates in Lacey.

Jenna Arkin, Earth Friendly chemist and technical director, said in a recent phone conversation, “The only way we can say it works is by showing that it works.”

Arkin said perhaps 25 percent of the Lacey workforce of 26 earns the minimum.

“You really feel a sense of family,” she said. “People feel that they are a part of the product. There’s a sense of camaraderie and job appreciation. It means less employee turnover, and it means this is a great place to work.”

 

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