WNYT.com

Business owners react to minimum wage proposal

Posted at: 03/19/2013 5:36 PM
Updated at: 03/19/2013 6:22 PM
By: Kumi Tucker

ALBANY -- Nick Foster is a small business owner who is in favor of increasing the minimum wage. Foster and his wife own All Good Bakers on Delaware Avenue in Albany. He works long hours and has two employees at his farm-to-table bakery cafe. 

"Even for small businesses that a lot of people think maybe can't afford to do it, your employees are your biggest asset," said Foster. "If you treat them right, they're going to stick around. A happy worker is a good worker and all that stuff."

The minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour. The proposal, which legislators say appears final, has an increase to $8 an hour in January, then $8.75 the next year and finally, the minimum wage would reach $9 an hour a year later. 

The National Federation of Independent Business calls it an absolute disaster.

"For small businesses, there's a fine profit line," said Mike Durant, State Director for the NFIB. "A lot of times they're in the red. Sales are one of the top concerns and you're mandating a cost increase per employee, so they're going to have to make difficult decisions. It's going to be to reduce hours for their employees. It could be to cut an employee."

Durant say small businesses have very little control over their other expenses.

The New York Farm Bureau also voiced concern, saying this would only add to the burden of farmers who are paying high prices for fuel and feed.

The minimum wage in New York has gone up a total of ten cents in the last six years. People like Foster say it's about time that changed.

"Because if you have a valuable employee that does hard work for you, why wouldn't you pay them enough money to feed their family and pay their rent?" he asked.

18 other states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont, have higher minimum wage rates than New York.