Does Mike Braun pay his employees nearly double the minimum wage?
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — the latest TV spot to hit the airwaves is touting Mike Braun’s business record.
But is it accurate?
The Republican U.S. Senate nominee has positioned himself as the outsider, running mostly on what he’s done as the founder and CEO of Meyer Distributing, since entering this race.
So it makes sense for his business to be at the center of his ads.
At least eight from his campaign in the past eight months that are now online and a few of them make the following claim:
“Mike Braun pays nearly double the minimum wage starting out,” said the narrator in one ad.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, minimum wage in the Hoosier state is $7.25/hr, double that would be $14.50/hr.
ABC 57 News spent the past few weeks going through Meyer Distributing’s career portal, looking through listings.
One of the lowest paying jobs listed was a warehouse operator.
That job paid $11/hr, $3.50 less than double the minimum wage.
Another was for a sales assistant position that paid up to $12/hour, about $1.50 less than double the minimum wage.
But the ad said nearly, not exactly double.
The posting specifies the employee could make that much based on previous work, so a less experienced candidate could make even less the promoted $12/hour for that job.
But again, those were two of the lowest paying positions advertised on the site.
A shipping processor, for example, could make up to $13/hour.
An e-commerce support associate could make up to $13.50/hr.
So Braun’s claim of paying his employees nearly double the minimum wage is mostly true, but not necessarily true for new hires if they lacked experience.
There was something none of the ads mentioned that is relevant to his wage claims about the company.
Back in 2012, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and Meyer Distributing entered an Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) 10-year agreement.
It’s a tax credit worth $800,000 for the company.
Some of the terms to the agreement include staffing at least 189 positions, adding 109 new jobs committing to paying employees the minimum wage of $11.12/hr.
Meyer Distributing entered this agreement in the hopes of expanding its operations in Jasper over 10 years, according to the document.
The project itself costs the company more than $23 million.
Josh Kelley, a spokesman for Braun, says he believes Braun is paying his employees higher wages because of the market and not necessarily the agreement with the IEDC.
"Mike Braun knows that business is all about people, and at Meyer, higher wages mean a stronger company, stronger families, and a stronger community,” said Kelley. “That’s why Mike pays nearly double the minimum wage starting out and has held healthcare premiums steady for 10 years running.”
Indiana Democrats however aren't buying it.
“Not only has Rep. Braun been sued repeatedly by former employees for failing to pay the minimum wage, but also faced discipline for a laundry list of workplace violations, all while raking in $18 million in profits last year alone," said Michael Feldman, a spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party. "He conveniently ignores that he’s already required by the terms of his IEDC grant to pay three-quarters of double the minimum wage -- and even then, he still fails to pay what’s required. His whopping exaggeration is just another instance of a man willing to say anything to get elected while doing everything he can to pad his own wallet.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include another job posting and a response from the Indiana Democratic Party.