To Increase Minumum Wage, Cuomo Announces Fight For Fair Pay Campaign

The minimum wage in New York State is currently $8.75 per hour—does that work for Westchester? Gov. Cuomo says no.

Raising the minimum wage has long been a contentious issue for small businesses in Westchester, and across the country. Payroll is typically a big chunk of their operating expenses, and small businesses often argue that raising the minimum wage makes it harder for them to afford to pay employees, and eventually leads to layoffs. The National Federation of Independent Businesses opposes any effort to increase the federal minimum wage, stating, “Like most government mandates on business, raising the minimum wage will have a deep and disproportionate impact on the small-business sector.”

Here in Westchester, the minimum wage debate is rearing its head again after Gov Cuomo’s announcement on Tuesday of his “Fight for Fair Pay” campaign, a proposal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 per hour (and $11.50 per hour in New York City). Cuomo’s tagline for the proposal is “No one who works a full-time job should be forced to live in poverty.”

New York State’s minimum wage is now $8.75 per hour, and there are 594,000 minimum wage workers in the state. In 2012, Cuomo signed legislation into law that increased the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 incrementally by December 31, 2015, to, as his statement says, “better align with the cost of living across the State.”

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“As the cost of living in New York continues to rise, the Governor proposes to again increase the minimum wage to increase earnings for many wage earners in low-income households, which will also aid local economies,” the statement continued. “Business and labor organizations including the Retail Council of New York State, Hotel and Motel Trades Council, 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU and others support the Governor’s efforts to increase the minimum wage.”

We recently asked some Westchester small business owners how they felt about raising the minimum wage. Here is what two of them had to say:

Debra DeCrescenzo Co-Owner, Jake’s Wayback Burgers, Hartsdale:

“As the owner of a startup, I see firsthand how harmful raising minimum wage can be for local businesses. Approximately 18 percent of our expense goes toward wages, and we are already spending nearly $2,000 per week on our workers. If minimum wage were to increase an extra dollar or so per hour, we would be dishing out an extra $100 per week for each full-time employee, which we just can’t afford.”

Bill Diamond, Owner, Grand Prix New York Racing/Spins Bowl, Mount Kisco:

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“Minimum wage should be a local issue, not a federal one. I think $10 an hour is an appropriate minimum wage for Westchester County, since this increase would help entry-level workers without having a drastic effect on local business. But there’s definitely a threshold for minimum wage that shouldn’t be passed; it must be raised or lowered with caution.”

What do you think? Should the minimum wage in Westchester be raised? Leave a comment in the comment section below to let us know.

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