November 20th, 2014
As of late, there's been a lot of news coverage about raising the minimum wage here in Illinois. During the most recent Nov. 4th elections, 67% of those in Illinois voted to raise the minimum wage to $10/hour. To help push this agenda, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage held a press conference to share opinions on how this raise would impact our state and our communities on a more local level. Speakers included AFL CIO President Mike Carrigan, State Senator Kimbery Lightford and several business owners and community leaders from across Chicago.
Our own Dimo's Pizza owner, Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau, was also one of the speakers. Below you will find his speech. We decided to share it here in written form because we believe it is important to remain in dialogue with you, our crustomers, about the issues that are important to our organization and our employees. We hope you'll read on and even share with us your opinion and reactoins via social media or next time you stop in for a slice.
"My name is Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau and I am the owner and operator of Dimo’s Pizza here in Chicago. I am here today to tell you that the minimum wages needs to rise. It has remained stagnant for too long. My perspective is a personal one. A perspective as a business owner that came to the understanding that my employees success is my own success. This is an issue that commands our attention. Wages have the power to transform employees, but they can also stifle them.
Today when we hire someone at Dimo’s we make a pledge to them. That the organization will provide them with support and in return we ask them to work hard, seek opportunity, create innovations, and provide a quality experience and a superior product for our customers. But we can not ask this if we do not hold up our end of the bargain. If we do not pay them a wage that allows them to support themselves, it is folly to think they will work in consonance with our goals.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs must be consulted only once to realize that if a human's basic functions are not provided for, no growth, economic or otherwise will take place. This is good for no one. Not an employee, not an employer, and certainly not for Illinois.
Realizing the importance of this win/win proposition is what all business owners must come to understand. I did not always pay above minimum wage. When we began, we sought to create an environment where hard work was required. We demanded it out of everyone. But without matching our high standard with the right pay, without taking the issue of money off the table for all employees, the hard work we desired didn’t come. But once that balance was reached, oh how we prospered.
Today, because we’ve paid an equitable wage, we’ve been able to grow. We expanded to a 2nd location. Promoted employees who have been around for years to Director of Brand, Data Analyst, Executive Chef, and Director of Human Resources. We pay 100% of our employees health care, vision and dental, provide 401k plans with a match, and give paid time off to full time employees. And I want to remind you, I’m in the restaurant business.
The people of Illinois deserve a raise. They deserve a raise because it’s the our responsibility to create a society that is equitable. That is just. And that provides for a means to thrive. We have the opportunity to right the ship of financial equality, let us raise the sail together and put the winds of change to work."