March 19, 2020

We Need You To Be Leaders

Ashland Brewery, Events

An open letter to our legislators.

If you are in the hospitality industry, we ask that you join us in writing our elected officials during this difficult time.

My name is Phillip Ray. Together with my brother, Chris, I own and operate Center of the Universe Brewing Company and Origin Beer Lab located in Ashland, Virginia. My brother and I rely on the staff of our small business for our livelihoods and they rely on us for theirs. We made a deal with them: they trade us their most precious commodity, their time; and in return, we offer them a safe and reliable place to work, a benefits package that provides health care in case of illness, a savings plan for their futures, a fair livable wage and a comfortable work – life balance. This week we are forced to break that deal.

This is by no means the first time our small business has faced hardships, but this is an unprecedented situation – one which I do not believe we can survive without your help. We have lost two of the three markets where our goods are sold and our revenues have been cut by 70% because of this. I am writing today to ask for your help. I am asking for you to help not just our business, but the 30 million small businesses in this country who are suffering.

Now is the time to help the workers in this country who contribute the most to the economy and receive the least amount of remuneration for their efforts. Now is not the time to send multibillion dollar bailout packages to multibillion dollar corporations. Those companies received their bailouts in 2018 with the historic corporate tax cut you voted into law. The result of that bailout was not improved salaries, increased benefits packages, or even a safety net for workers or the companies themselves. Instead, the corporations you bailed out participated in record stock buy backs and paid massive dividends to their shareholders. They used their bailouts for the benefit of a few wealthy stakeholders. Now, when crisis hits, they want you to use taxpayer money to bail them out again.

This is the definition of privatizing profits and socializing losses. For far too long, this country has asked the most financially vulnerable among us to bear the brunt of the fiscal pain when disaster strikes and reap the fewest rewards when the economy is booming. This crisis has proven to be no exception.

Small businesses in this country are often inefficient and ours is no exception. This inefficiency is exactly what keeps the economy moving. We spend the majority of our budgets on humanpower and earn razor thin margins. Our revenues do not sit in our checking accounts or investment accounts or in our own stock ownership. We do not have executive payrolls or massive lobbying budgets. We earn and spend our money locally, benefiting the greater economy not just our own.

We are the businesses that drive the economy. I call on you now to see past your campaign contributors, fundraising sponsors, and lobbyists and start representing the voters of this country. Do not fail us again.

Pass legislation that immediately puts money into the hands of small businesses and working Americans. Pass legislation that guarantees every American access to health care. Pass legislation guaranteeing all Americans with a full time job can support their families. Pass legislation that protects every American during times of crisis. I call on you to pass these laws and to pass them today. This is the deal you made with the American people when you asked for our votes. Now is the time to honor that deal.

Phillip Ray
Co-Founder, Center of the Universe Brewing Company & Origin Beer Lab

Find your legislator

Virginia General Assembly

Find Your Representative

Contact Your Senator