Governor Cuomo formally proposed raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour as part of his Executive Budget this month. The Governor’s proposal is identical to the plans he’s announced over the past few months to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by the end of 2018 in New York City and by July 1, 2021 throughout the rest of the state.
What the Governor did not do is address tip wages – and that’s a problem. The state Labor Law requires a Wage Board to be held to adjust the tip wage anytime the minimum wage is increased so any increase in the minimum wage – even if not as high as $15 – will trigger another Hospitality Industry Wage Board. And this wage panel is all but certain to call for eliminating the tipped wage.
It’s clear we’re going to have to fight this battle on two fronts. We must be prepared to advocate against an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour along with our business coalition partners and we have to make sure to educate legislators on the facts about tipped wages and the earnings of tipped workers in the hospitality industry.
The Minimum Wage Reality Check coalition now includes 34 business groups, trade associations and local Chambers of Commerce from all across the state representing tens of thousands of businesses that employ more than 2 million New Yorkers. It’s presenting a unified position on behalf of businesses in a wide variety of industries making sure their voice is heard in this debate.
Our participation in the MWRC coalition ensures that the concerns of hospitality businesses are present in this debate and gives us a platform to raise concerns about the tipped wage. The coalition has been hard at work sharing the stories of businesses that will be hurt by a massive minimum wage increase. Check out the MWRC website, www.minimumwagerealitycheck.com, for updates on the campaign and the coalition’s efforts.
You may have noticed that our opponents are distorting the facts and are trying to make this an attack on big business. But you and your employees can set the record straight. We need you to contact your State Senators and Members of Assembly to share your stories…tell them what the recent increase in the cash wage has done to your business and what further increases will mean. Unless you tell your stories all they’ll know is what the labor unions say – and they say you can afford it. Contact the state association office so we can help connect you to your legislators.
In addition, circle March 8th on your calendar for the annual Small Business Day at the Capitol. This year’s event is focused on the $15 per minimum wage proposal. With the budget due to be adopted by the end of March the participation in Small Business Day at the Capitol will signal just how loud a voice small business owners will have in this year’s minimum wage battle. Our goal is to have member contact with all of our elected representatives at least once by the end of February and then do it again on Small Business Day in Albany. Can we count on you?