Last updated on July 8th, 2015 at 03:51 pm
More than 100 New York restaurant operators recently sent a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imploring him to keep New York open for business. The letter was written in response to the governor’s decision to unilaterally instate a self-appointed wage board targeting fast food restaurants without any representation from the restaurant industry. In the letter, the group (Save NY Restaurants) discussed what members believe is an unfair and arbitrary process of targeting a sole segment of a single industry.
“As the owners and operators of New York’s restaurants, we write to express critical concern with your decision to unfairly and arbitrarily target our businesses. New York’s 20,000 limited-service restaurants are economic drivers; creating jobs and state revenue in every community from Staten Island to Schenectady. Our restaurants provide opportunity to more than 280,000 New Yorkers of all backgrounds and skill levels, a large majority of which are those just entering the workforce.
“While the decision to raise the minimum wage for restaurant workers may be well intentioned, circumventing our duly elected representatives and unilaterally appointing a wage board without representation from anyone in our industry is misguided at best and suspicious at worst. We remain voiceless in this process as you have chosen to exclude the very industry you are targeting in your decision making.”
The group also addressed what it refers to as the severe implications that a dramatic increase will have on continued opportunity for New Yorkers across the state.
“We are not the corporations whose names we bear but rather New Yorkers who work hard each and every day. We—the owners and operators of New York’s restaurants—are law-abiding, tax-paying residents who run our own businesses… Restaurants operate on razor-thin margins. Labor is among the highest cost, and a dramatic wage increase such as the one you are proposing cannot simply be passed off in menu price-hikes to the detriment of patrons—and ultimately our industry.”
The group called on Cuomo to meet with members of the restaurant industry to find other solutions, like increased access to education, skills training and development to help solve New York’s wage gap.
New research by the Employment Policies Institute of nearly 1,000 New York fast food operators found that nearly 50 percent said they’d be forced to “reduce employees’ hours or staffing levels” due to drastic wage increases, while another 22 percent said they would be forced to close their doors altogether. Seventy percent said they likely would have to raise their prices to meet the proposed wage requirements, which would hurt their businesses.