Though Pennsylvania Has Declined to Adopt the $15 Minimum Wage, Companies Take Matters into Their Own Hands

By: Kathryn Olon

A few weeks ago, the Duquesne Business Law Informant published an article about increases to the minimum wage in several states.  Although Pennsylvania under Governor Wolf has elected to take a graduated increase approach to the minimum wage, several businesses operating in-state have decided to increase their wages independently.

Among these businesses is the popular convenience store Sheetz.  Headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the family-owned business announced this week a $28.5 million investment to go toward increasing employee wages.

The increase went into effect today, February 12, increasing wages for the majority of employees working in the 620 stores located on the East Coast.  Currently, Sheetz employs over 20,000 employees in its 620 stores, several locations which are in the greater Pittsburgh area.

This is not the first time that the convenience chain has invested a large sum of money in increasing employee wages.  In 2016, Sheetz invested $15 million in employee wage increases.  And in 2019, Sheetz invested $16.8 million in employee wages. 

This announcement comes the same week that Governor Tom Wolf appealed to the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass his incremental plan to raise the state’s minimum wage.  In Pennsylvania, the minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour for the past 14 years.  Under Wolf’s plan, the minimum wage would be raised to $12 an hour by July of this year, and increase 50 cents a year until reaching $15 an hour.

Currently, it is unclear whether the Pennsylvania General Assembly will approve Wolf’s plan.  Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the General Assembly seemed open to a statewide wage increase, with a 42-7 vote to up the hourly wage to $9.50 an hour.  However, these measures were never passed.

Although many employers and members of government have expressed concern about what an increased minimum wage will mean for jobs, Governor Wolf believes that it will ultimately help productivity. 

In response to questioning regarding the impact on small businesses, Wolf responded, “The better you treat your employees, the better off your business.” Governor Wolf’s sentiment seems to ring true for Sheetz, who has been focusing its investments on increasing employee pay so as to invest in its employees and help benefit “the heart and soul” of the company, as Sheetz President and COO Travis Sheetz put it

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