Business leader urges resistance to massive minimum wage hike

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BY AL SAMUELS
President/CEO
Rockland Business Association

As a founding member of the Minimum Wage Reality Check coalition, The Rockland Business Association has once again shown its leadership in addressing public policy issues affecting our business community.

Formed at the end of 2015, the then 29-member organization has grown to 37 trade groups and chambers of commerce willing to stand up and fight this ill-conceived plan that NY’s Department of Labor says will cost us $15.7 billion a year. At a time when we are still struggling to rebuild an economy hard hit by the Recession of 2008, it makes no sense to straddle business with this huge “tax” burden that also is projected to cost us, at least, 200,000 jobs. In fact, the Empire Center and the American Action Forum estimate job losses as high as 588,000 statewide.

This initiative would create an especially harmful competitive situation for businesses in Rockland, a border county with New Jersey where the minimum wage is $8.38. The state Business Council also has noted concerns over the proposed increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 as well as the proposal for a 12-week paid family leave program.

The group’s budget analysis singled out the minimum wage proposal backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Democratic lawmakers and wage and labor advocates as the “most significant new business cost” in the proposed budget.

“In fact, it may be the single most costly legislative proposal ever considered by the state legislature,” the group said, “with a projected cost of $15.7 billion per year once fully implemented.”

The current minimum wage in New York is $9, having increased from $8.75 on Jan. 1.

The group was opposed to the governor’s use of executive power to raise the wage over the next several years for fast-food workers to $15. He later moved to increase the minimum wage to $15 for state and SUNY workers, as well.

At the same time, the Business Council has “a number of concerns” with the governor’s paid family leave proposal given its potentially broad reach for all employers.

“It represents a significant departure from the federal Family Medical Leave Act by applying to all employers,” the Business Council states. “Congress, when contemplating the FMLA, gave great consideration to the burdens such a law would put on small employers. The reinstatement provisions alone – holding a job for up to 12 weeks – were deemed too burdensome for small employers.”

Cuomo’s paid family leave plan would be paid for with a $1 deduction of an employees’ paycheck, while the Democratic-led Assembly approved an alternative bill that would require an expansion of the temporary disability insurance fund.

In Rockland, according to NYSDOL, fully 67 percent of our businesses have four or fewer employees. These micro businesses cannot absorb a $15 an hour minimum wage nor the consequences of the proposed Family Leave Act.

Do you believe that these businesses could have 25 percent, or more, of their workforce absent for 25 percent of the year and not suffer problems in productivity? Many of them would face inevitable problems maintaining any level of competitiveness resulting in loss of market and closure.

Please visit www.minimumwagerealitycheck.com and join the fight against these job killers.

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