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Thursday, July 23, 2015
By +Scott Leffler 
scott.leffler@eastniagarapost.com


The New York State Fast Food Wage Board voted unanimously Wednesday to increase the wages of fast food chain workers to $15.

The wage hike would be phased in by Dec. 31, 2018 in New York City and by July 1, 2021 throughout the rest of the state.

Rob Ortt
The decision, only effecting fast food establishments with 30 or more locations nationally, would require only a handful of businesses in East Niagara to raise their minimum hourly wages. It would be done by the following schedule:

  • $9.75 on Dec. 31, 2015,
  • $10.75 on Dec. 31, 2016,
  • $11.75 on Dec. 31, 2017,
  • $12.75 on Dec.31, 2018,
  • $13.75 on Dec. 31, 2019,
  • $14.50 on Dec. 31, 2020,
  • $15.00 on July 1, 2021.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo heralded the news of the Wage Board's decision, calling it "one of the really great days of my administration," but others weren't so happy about the vote.

State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, called it "blatant government overreach," that will have "negative ripple effects across all sectors." His full statement, made Wednesday afternoon, follows:
The Governor’s minimum wage hike is blatant government overreach that shows a clear disregard for the private sector and democratic separation of powers. The state is in the midst of a gradual minimum wage increase from $8.75 to $9.00 an hour, but now unelected officials in Albany are mandating a further phase-in of up to $15 for a specific industry. This will have negative ripple effects across all sectors – from hard-working non-profit workers, to mom-and-pop shops, to our family farms. Anyone with an understanding of the economy realizes that while the Governor’s plan is masked as an effort to force large companies to increase their wages, it will actually help major corporations by luring employees from small businesses that operate on the margins. Our focus should be on creating a strong economy that allows transition from low-wage, first-time jobs to solid careers that pay well beyond the minimum wage. It’s disappointing to see the Governor follow the failed leadership qualities of our President, who bypasses legislative compromise and acts unilaterally to push partisan political issues.”
Greg Biryla, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, suggests the wage hike will "give employers yet another reason to leave New York for economic opportunities elsewhere," adding the board's recommendations "set a dangerous precedent that should alarm every employer in New York State."

"Businesses that are already struggling under New York’s high taxes and burdensome mandates are looking at Governor Cuomo’s misguided wage board approach and are worried that they will be its next target," Biryla said. "This process shows that changes to the state’s minimum wage should be done through the legislative process, where our elected officials can hear and consider the views of taxpayers and employers, not just labor advocates.”

CSEA President Danny Donohue congratulated fast food workers "for their brave fight that goes to the very heart of the income inequality that plagues New York more than any other state. It showed the determination of all low-wage workers looking to earn a decent wage for themselves and their families."

He then said there's more that needs done "to close the wage gap and benefit low-wage workers, starting with his own state work force and the neglected workers of not-for-profit agencies funded by the state."

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