×

Norwich-based King Arthur Flour to raise minimum wage to $15



Valley News Business Writer
Thursday, August 29, 2019

NORWICH — King Arthur Flour, the baking ingredients distributor, bakery and cafe-restaurant, on Thursday said it is boosting the minimum wage for all its employees to $15.

The company said the new $15-per-hour “entry wage” would go into effect on Monday and apply companywide to workers in all areas, including seasonal, part-time and full-time employees. It also would not trigger any reduction in benefits such as medical coverage, profit sharing or matching 401(k) contributions.

“King Arthur Flour is a Certified B Corporation, and we’ve always been committed to our stakeholders,” said Suzanne McDowell, co-CEO and chief human resources officer at the employee-owned company. “We’ve been thinking about (raising entry-level wage) for a while and the timing was right to do it.”

McDowell said that King Arthur Flour recently wrapped its fiscal year, but before merit increases were issued wanted to “address the lower wage earners first.”

The onetime family-owned company transitioned to an employee-owned company in 2004. In 2007, it became one of the original Certified B Corp. companies, a corporate governance structure that balances employee welfare with profit motive.

The current minimum wage at King Arthur Flour is $12.50 for “seasonal hiring,” which is targeted to the fourth-quarter shopping season. The company has 365 employees, including 117 who work at the bakery, cafe-restaurant and retail store on Route 5 in Norwich.

McDowell said the raise in minimum wage would apply to about 20% of the company’s workforce and include the 30 to 50 seasonal employees it is looking to hire at its upcoming job fair on Sept. 7.

The current minimum wage in Vermont is $10.78, and in New Hampshire, it’s $7.25, although in fact many employers, especially those located along the Connecticut River Valley, find they have to pay between $11 and $13 per hour to attract and retain employees.

A $15 minimum wage comes to $31,200 annually based upon a 40-hour week. Despite the increase, however, that higher wage still does not meet that of a “living wage” for many families in the state, according to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator.

Median earnings for Vermont workers was $36,600 in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

But the MIT calculator estimates that a two-adult, two-child household in Vermont with a single working parent would require that person to earn at least $25.73 per hour, or $53,500 a year, to support the family.

In May, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed SB 40, which would have raised the state minimum wage to $15 by 2024, saying that while he agreed with the “the spirit” of the bill, he nonetheless believed “the bill is more likely to harm those it intends to help, weaken small businesses and the economy as a whole.”

John Lippman can be reached at jlippman@vnews.com.