Updated: Thursday, July 23 2015, 11:25 PM EDT
Henrietta, N.Y. – Some local fast food owners are turning up the heat on Governor Andrew Cuomo.
They say the new fast food wage increase is his idea, and that they are being unfairly targeted.
Governor Cuomo defended the fast food wage board’s decision to increase hourly pay to $15.
“Fast food workers are one of the largest groups,” said Cuomo to a group of reporters. “They’re not teenage kids who are doing this after high school to make a few bucks; most fast food workers are people who are the single provider for a family.”
Glen Jeter, an owner and operator of several McDonald’s restaurants in the Greater Rochester area, passed along this statement to 13WHAM News.
“I am extremely disappointed that small businesses like mine have been unfairly targeted with this attempt to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour only for workers at limited service restaurants,” read the email. “I am hopeful the Labor Commissioner strongly considers the impact this will have on the state’s economy and the employees of small business owners like me before reaching his final decision.”
Dennis Kessler, a former owner of more than 20 Burger King restaurants in the Greater Rochester area, said that he doesn’t necessarily oppose a wage increase, but doesn’t understand why only fast food establishments were the focus of the wage board.
“It’s singling out a particular industry,” he said. “I think 100% that this was politically motivated.”
Cuomo, however, said that he intends to push for an across the board minimum wage increase at some point in the next year.
“We have raised it some, but we haven’t raised it enough we said,” he added.
If approved by the labor commissioner, fast-food workers will make $15 an hour by 2018 in New York City, and by 2021 in the rest of the state. The increase will be gradual and happen yearly until $15 is reached.
“For me, it’s clear that the way the industry is structured, people are being kept in poverty,” said Mike Fisherman, a wage board member, at a meeting held in June. “They work in poverty, and the industry has set itself up that way so they can interchange people for hours at any given time,” he added.
In New York City, the wage would be increased to $10.50 on December 31, 2015, then $12 on the same date in 2016, $13.50 in 2017, and $15 in 2018.
The rest of the state will be $9.75 by the end of 2015, $10.75 in 2016, $11.75 in 2017, $12.75 in 2018, $13.75 in 2019, $14.50 in 2020, and $15 in 2021.
The wage increase will apply to those fast food chains with more than 30 locations. “The general feeling has been that this does not include the single owner or the person who owns two restaurants,” said board member Kevin Ryan. “We’re targeting chains,” he added.
There are some concerns among franchise owners that the increase is too much, and will hinder profitability, but board members insisted they’ve taken that into consideration. “We tried to hear everyone and strike a balance,” said Ryan. “We want businesses to be successful, because if not there are no jobs for anyone.”
Prior to the vote, a member of the New York Department of Labor said that data and studies indicated that $15 an hour was a proper recommendation based on economic and poverty data.
Although the vote was unanimous, the wage increase still needs to be approved by the labor commissioner. You can see the full report from the Fast Food Wage Board here.
I Want My Legacy To Be That They Know That They Screwed With The Wrong Guy — Andrew Breitbart