Last updated on January 13th, 2016 at 01:51 pm
The $15-an-hour statewide minimum wage pushed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would backfire in the form of fewer jobs, reduced hours and benefits for remaining workers, higher prices for consumers, and severe financial stress for family-run convenience stores. That was the New York Association of Convenience Stores’ (NYACS) message to the New York State Senate during a recent hearing.
“Regrettably, as we enter 2016, the overarching policy debate in New York State centers not on how to create and retain jobs, but whether to make it two-thirds more expensive for private-sector employers to create and retain jobs,” NYACS President James Calvin said in written testimony submitted for a Senate Labor Committee public hearing on Jan. 7.
Cuomo is asking the Senate and Assembly to increase the state’s minimum wage by 67 percent to $15 an hour across the board—not just for experienced, full-time employees, but for part-time and entry-level workers as well.
“Mind you, New York has just completed a three-step, three-year increase in the state minimum wage approved by the governor, and the legislature that brought us from $7.25 in 2013 to $9 an hour today,” Calvin wrote. “The 24 percent pace of this increase was over eight times the national rate of inflation during that period, artificially driving up employer costs for not just wages, but payroll taxes, workers compensation and unemployment insurance. Another jump to $15 would be a torpedo to the side of New York small businesses.”
Cuomo already has issued executive orders for “fast-food establishments” (including QSRs inside convenience stores) to pay a higher minimum wage than other employers and for the state and its university system to gradually increase the minimum wage of their workers to $15.
Automation, such as ordering kiosks, might be another response.
“But state laws require convenience stores to verify the age of customers wishing to purchase beer, tobacco or lottery products; assist a disabled customer requesting help pumping gas; respond to any spills that occur at the fuel island; redeem Bottle Bill containers; and perform a variety of other tasks that can only be performed by human beings,” Calvin explained. “Besides, it’s a people business. The essence of neighborhood retailing is people serving other people.”