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Erie County, largest Upstate County in New York, opposes Minimum Wage Board’s Recommendation of $15 for fast food workers


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Today, the Erie County Legislature opposed the recent recommendation of a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers in New York State by the New York Minimum Wage Board. Per the recommendation, rates would be raised incrementally in New York City, reaching $15 by 2018. Statewide, chains with at least 30 locations would be forced to pay employees a wage of $15 an hour by July 2021.The county resolution was approved 6-5.


“Creating a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers puts all small businesses owners at a disadvantage. Targeting one specific industry will have vast implications on the price of goods, cost of living, and access to jobs. Artificially inflating the wages for one industry creates a ripple effect to all small business owners, especially franchisee-owned fast food restaurants. In New York State a majority of fast food restaurants are franchisee-owned, with 45 percent of franchisees owning just one location. This wage increase will force local entrepreneurs to potentially lay off workers or close all together,” said Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo.


“As a business owner myself, I understand the effect this decision will have on local businesses. This wage hike will back businesses into a corner, and force owners to make very difficult decisions with regard to their workforce to ensure their companies can survive. This is an irrational proposal that had a predetermined outcome before the board even sat down for the first meeting,” stated Chairman John Mills.


“If we want to have a conversation about raising minimum wage, it should be a discussion about the entire workforce. This recommendation was hastily thrown together by a politically appointed board without insight from those in the actual industry. Unfortunately, this is another effort to bypass the legislative process by people who don’t respect the individuals who are creating jobs,” said Legislator Edward Rath III.


“Businesses in New York State are already overregulated and taxed too high. Arbitrarily boosting wages in a narrow sector of industry creates an unequal playing field. Nurses, teachers, construction workers and other skilled workers should not be discriminated against and that is exactly what this recommendation accomplishes. Evaluating the minimum wage level should be done through the state legislative process so that we have a real opportunity to discuss the positive and negative effects of raising the minimum wage through all labor sectors of New York State,” said Legislator Ted Morton.


In order for the board’s recommendation to become law, it must be approved by New York State Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino. The resolution that passed the Erie County Legislature asks Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner Musolino to reject the board’s recommendations.