We come together in the halls of power and across the media as small business owners because we need to grab our good name back from corporations and lobbyists. On issue after issue, we stand for an alternative economic point of view: it’s about community, customer demand, social justice and sustainable business models. While we come together to advocate we are also exploring ways to provide concrete, hands-on assistance to our members.
Our Washington state affiliate has launched a collaboration with the Oakland-based Beneficial State Foundation to tackle the small business issue #1: access to credit.
Over sixty Spokane mom-n-pops and their community allies and customers came out to connect and share ideas about alternatives to big banks and Wall Street who extract wealth from our communities and rig the marketplace against small businesses. Owners of retail stores, restaurants, small manufacturers, dry cleaners, mechanics, IT and health professionals, consultants, artists and everyone in between joined in to brainstorm ways to bring together values-driven lending institutions and good providers of financial know-how assistance and Main Street Alliance members.
Kat Taylor, CEO and Founder of Oakland-based Beneficial State Bank and Foundation, as well as the Bank and Foundation officers, visited Spokane for the occasion and got to hear a range of entrepreneurial experiences with financial institutions. The picture, as you may suspect, is not that pretty, especially for women owners, people of color, immigrants and first-generation entrepreneurs. When it comes to being treated well by the banking industry, every small business has a horror story.
Our goal is to produce a valuable and vetted portal of values-driven lenders and service providers across Washington and beyond and to work actively on connecting them with small businesses. When we strengthen the business operations of our own members, we also strengthen our local economies and our ability to have impact on local and statewide policy debates.
We envision a banking industry that is fair to the person with the least bargaining power, provides access to financial services for all our communities, particularly the under-served. We envision lending institutions that promote the stability of the financial system and contribute to the sustainability of our environmental commons.
In other words, we believe that money should serve people, not the other way around. We call our new project Building Main Street. Let’s build strong local economies, improve quality of life for each of us, and make widespread gains in social equity and environmental renewal. Main Street, not Wall Street.
Here is a little glimpse from Spokane. Stay in touch with our Washington affiliate and let them know what you think.
The National Labor Relations Board has issued a ruling that the McDonald’s Corporation can be listed as a “joint employer” for workers in franchise-owned stores. It’s a ruling that could have a major impact in the growing movement to raise wages and working conditions in the fast-food industry.
Whether franchise locations like McDonald’s should be treated as part of an intertwined corporate structure, or as separate locally-owned small business, has been a hot topic in recent minimum wage debates prompted by fast-food worker strikes. The city of Seattle passed a $15 minimum wage law this year, under which corporate franchises and other large businesses have a shorter implementation schedule to raise wages than smaller locally-owned businesses; this has prompted the International Franchise Association to file a lawsuit claiming discrimination.
On MSNBC's Your Business, Main Street Alliance leader Makini Howell, owner of Plum Restaurants in Seattle, debated the CEO of the Washington DC-based International Franchise Association on Seattle's $15/hour minimum wage law, and on whether corporate franchises are really small businesses.
Howell called the $15 minimum wage an "economy-boosting policy," noting that low-wage consumers will have nearly $3 billion more to spend in the local economy in the law's first decade.
Responding to IFA's claims of 'discrimination,' Howell had the last word.
"A lot of the money that the franchisees could use to pay their workers increased wages is being sucked away to the larger corporations. And it's not fair for McDonald's to hide behind them in order to pay poverty wages."
Bipartisan legislation designed to renew emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed passed the Senate in April, but was called 'unworkable' by Speaker Boehner and has not been heard from since in the House.
Over 3 million unemployed individuals have lost benefits.
Beginning June 7th, advocates for the unemployed and sympathetic members of Congress have gathered for 'Witness Wednesdays,' to bring attention to inaction on this issue and to share stories from those who are suffering personal economic problems because of evaporating family incomes.
On Wednesday, June 23rd, Main Street Alliance D.C. lobbyist Bill Daley represented the Alliance for a Just Society and the Main Street Alliance, speaking out on the importance of unemployment insurance to the economy and to small businesses; he shared a story from a New Jersey man named Dermott.
If you agree with Don, here are 3 things you can do:
1. Read and sign the petition (scroll down or click here).
2. Share the video on Facebook and Twitter - hit the share button in the top right corner of the video and use these hashtags: #listen2mainstreet #smallbiz #my2k
3. Help spread the word by sharing this page with your email networks: www.mainstreetalliance.org/ListenToMainStreet
As Don says, it's time to make America right.
Main Street Alliance affiliates are fighting to make sure new state health insurance exchanges are designed to work in the best interest of small businesses, not insurance companies. As part of these efforts, our affiliate in Idaho launched this video highlighting how insurance interests dominate the committees making decisions about health policy in a classic "fox guarding the henhouse" scenario. Click below to watch the video.
On June16, the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Capital Access and Taxes held a hearing entitled The Dodd-Frank Act: Impact on Small Business Lending. The Main Street Alliance's Bill Daley was invited to testify on behalf of businesses in our network. See the clip of Bill's testimony: