New York restaurateurs worried about an impending $15 minimum wage have warned that paying workers more will, among other things, cause price hikes and unnecessarily compensate people with “no experience or skills.” Those warnings haven’t carried much weight with Governor Cuomo, so the New York State Restaurant Association is back again, this time with a more passive-aggressive letter demanding the state halt future wage increases because the current ones are “hardship” enough.
The argument this time is that employers can’t handle the new tipped-wage increase that starts January 1, upping servers’ hourly pay from $5 to $7.50. (The regular minimum wage is rising from $8.75 to $9.) The group says restaurateurs “are being hit with a whopping 50% increase” already, and the industry just “needs time to adjust to this dramatic increase.” And by “time,” the group means “at least five years.”
Once enacted, Cuomo’s $15 minimum wage will almost certainly affect the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers as well, and apparently, with 2016’s pay bump in a few days, the lobby group is freaked out. President Melissa Fleischut tells the Daily News, “This increase has already forced restaurants to close, business owners to cut hours and lay people off, and made owners look to incorporate more tablets at tables. Any further increase will just exacerbate these problems.”
Cuomo’s office says the governor will take a look at the letter, but offered hopeful restaurateurs a warning of its own: “The Governor believes those who work full-time should not be condemned to a life of poverty and is proud of the steps we’ve taken to ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”