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National Restaurant Association - Keeping up the fight on NY wages

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Keeping up the fight on NY wages

The National Restaurant Association testified at a New York State Senate hearing Thursday and questioned the legality of a process that ended with an extreme minimum wage being imposed on the state’s quickservice restaurant franchises.

The hearing was held by the New York State Senate Labor Committee, on the day that New York Acting Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino gave the final approval to a $15 minimum wage for QSRs. Committee Chairman Sen. Jack Martins (R) criticized the process by which the wage mandate was implemented—by a three-member “wage board,” appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, rather than by legislation.

“Wage boards aren’t how laws should be made,” Martins told Time Warner Cable News. “We do have a legislative process.”

In testimony, Angelo Amador, NRA senior vice president and regulatory counsel, reiterated the points the NRA made in a legal objection filed last month, including that the wage board was unlawfully constituted and failed to represent the interests of employers; the increase violates the state constitution because it wasn’t approved by the legislature; and that it was improper for the wage board to focus on a narrow sector of a single industry. QSRs in the state will likely have to cut jobs and raise prices, Amador said.

The wage board consisted of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Kevin Ryan, founder of the online retailer Gilt, and SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Mike Fishman. SEIU has been a leading backer of a $15 minimum wage in New York and across the country.

“Gov. Cuomo first targeted the restaurant industry by circumventing the law through a self-appointed wage board without any representation from the industry,” according to a statement by the Save New York Restaurants Coalition, which includes the New York State Restaurant Association and NRA. “The hardworking men and women that own and operate New York’s restaurants were silenced by advocates and remained voiceless through this entire process. We have said this throughout this entire process and today the Governor has unfortunately proven us right…New York is NOT open for business.”

The NRA is exploring legal options to challenge the increase. 

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