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National Restaurant Association - Will a N.Y. wage hike hurt YOUR business?

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Will a N.Y. wage hike hurt YOUR business?

A three-member board appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is determining whether the minimum wage for New York’s quickservice restaurant employees should jump to $15 an hour from $8.75, and a new study finds the ramifications of that increase could be severe.

The survey, based on responses from nearly 1,000 New York quickservice operators, was released June 4 by the Employment Policies Institute. Among those responding, nearly 50 percent said they’d be forced to “reduce employees’ hours or staffing levels” if the wage increases, while another 22 percent said they would be forced to close their doors altogether. Seventy percent said they likely would have to raise their prices to meet the proposed wage requirements, which would hurt their businesses.

The wage board is composed of Chairman Byron Brown, the mayor of Buffalo; Mike Fishman, secretary-treasurer of the Services Employees International Union; and Kevin Ryan, chairman and founder of online retailer Gilt. They are holding a series of public hearings to determine whether or not to increase the minimum wage. The group first met June 5, and is scheduled to meet again June 15.

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said Gov. Cuomo’s decision to appoint the wage board and try to ramrod through an increase that would only affect quickservice employees and no others is unfair and counterproductive to maintaining a healthy workforce in the state.

“It’s disappointing … that the governor has chosen to single out our industry for a higher wage floor,” she said. “It’s fundamentally unfair to say a cash-register attendant at a fast-food restaurant has a higher minimum wage than the register attendant in a retail store. New York has always had a uniform minimum wage … set by the legislature that treats all businesses and employees equally. But now Governor Cuomo has set up a dog-and-pony show to pick winners and losers. Even though business has a representative at the table, the restaurant industry remains voiceless in this process.”

Fleischut said she hopes members of the wage board understand the decisions made could affect all restaurants and small businesses in New York, and as a result, its local economy.

In New York, 20,000 limited-service restaurants provide jobs for more than 280,000 residents. Employees under the age of 25 make up 41 percent of the restaurant industry’s total workforce, and 28 percent of them are students. New York’s current youth unemployment rate is over 20 percent.

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