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Op-Ed -- Minimum Wage Hike aimed at Fast-Food Industry Bad for Erie County


We’ve all read the stories in the paper of the countless individuals suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic. There has been a lot of talk of families being ripped apart by this tragedy, too often we hear talk but see little action.

Legislator Ted Morton joined Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, Holland Central School Superintendent Cathy Fabiatos and Alden School Superintendent Adam Stoltman to announce continued funding for school resource officers (SRO) in several local districts. The SRO program provides a uniformed officer in schools as a way to promote student safety, conflict resolution and anti-bullying initiatives.

At a Legislative session held on September 21, 2017, Legislator Ted Morton honored Lancaster resident, Dick Young as the September 2017 Citizen of the month.

Today, in response to the County Executive’s offer to work with Legislator Morton to develop a compromise Made in America Act, Legislator Ted Morton wrote to him to begin the process.

Legislator Ted Morton first introduced the Made in America Act in support of local manufacturers and local workers in Erie County. After passing the Legislature by a vote of 9-1, the County Executive vetoed the law after instructing the County Attorney to draft a legal opinion.

Zero. That’s the number of people on Governor Cuomo’s politically appointed fast-food minimum wage board that had any experience operating in the fast-food industry.


Three. That’s the number of people appointed to the wage board, that’s all the appointees by the way, that knew before they even stepped in the room that their recommendation was going to be to raise the minimum wage to $15  an hour.


When the restaurant operators attempted to open up a conversation about this proposal, the door was slammed in their face. No matter your political persuasion, that is not how the process is supposed to work, but it has come to be what we expect from New York State. The recommendation lacked logic, supporting data and meaningful discussion.


This decision doesn’t go after big corporations as some would lead you to believe. It targets small business owners. A majority of fast food restaurants in NYS are franchisee-owned, and forty-five percent own just a single location. By increasing wages more than seventy-percent, you are forcing business owners to make tough decisions. I believe this decision will cause layoffs, increase prices for consumers and force businesses to look to automation as an alternative.


These jobs aren’t easy, and people shouldn’t be vilified for believing their hourly wages should be higher.


Previous generations looked to jobs in food service positions to start their career. High school and college students worked in restaurants to supplement the cost of their education or to provide some extra spending money. Things have changed. The structural change in the economy from manufacturing to service based has made these jobs a key source of income for many. This needs to be acknowledged and considered.


But the process that this wage recommendation went through wasn’t right. The appropriate parties were not involved in the discussion, it bypassed the legislature and it targets one very specific industry. If we want to support workers and increase wages, we should be pursing policies that create economic growth in all sectors.


Any conversation about increasing the minimum wage should be open and transparent. I’m tired of politicians trying to use smoke and mirrors to force policies on small business owners. If you believe in something, you should be willing to call it your own, and staunchly defend it.


This decision now sits before New York State Labor Secretary Mario Musolino and Governor Cuomo. I ask them to oppose this proposal, and show that we are willing to protect small businesses in our state.