Hobby Lobby, the national arts, crafts and hobby superstore chain with outlets in Clearwater and Lutz, announced Monday it is raising its minimum wage for full-time workers to $17 an hour starting Oct. 1.
The change comes in time for the traditionally busy holiday shopping season and will offer some relief for employees during the coronavirus pandemic, Hobby Lobby said in a news release.
Labor activists are campaigning for a minimum federal wage of $15, more than twice the current $7.25, and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has made it plank in his platform. Target, Amazon and Best Buy are among businesses that already have announced an increase to $15 an hour.
Hobby Lobby said it raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2014 and started boosting its pay beyond the federal minimum wage as early as 2009.
Company founder and chief executive David Green said, “From closing our stores on Sundays and at 8 p.m. the rest of the week, to providing some of the best pay and benefits in the retail industry, we are thankful that we are able to share our success with our valued employees and provide time for rest, family and worship.”
With more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees, Hobby Lobby is the largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer in the world, according to its website. It operates in 46 states.
The company was founded in 1970 and operates on Biblical principles, a practice it defended all the way to the Supreme Court in 2014 when justices ruled that Hobby Lobby and companies like it don’t have to provide insured workers the contraceptive care required under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Florida voters are scheduled to decide in November whether to raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.56 to $10 in September of next year. The referendum known as Amendment 2 would continue raising the minimum wage by $1 until it reaches $15 in 2026 and increase it slightly thereafter each year to keep up with the consumer price index.
If it passes, Florida would become the eighth state where the minimum wage will be set at $15 in the near future. It would take approval from 60 percent of voters to become the law here.