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Wrong way to boost low wages

Wrong way to boost low wages

There are only two things wrong with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to raise the minimum wage for worke

There are only two things wrong with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to raise the minimum wage for workers in the fast food industry:

The way he did it. And the plan itself.

Let’s start with the plan itself, then get to the “subverting-representative-government” part.

There’s no doubt that many workers, particularly those in the fast-food industry but also those in many other industries, don’t make enough money to live comfortable lives or take care of families. That needs to be addressed. But this isn’t the way.

The first thing wrong with the plan to raise the fast-food minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 is that it singles out fast-food workers, while ignoring all the other low-paid workers in retail, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and other industries. Is it fair that the state creates a separate livable wage for only one category of workers?

Second, this plan could hurt workers and businesses, by creating more competition for those fast-food jobs when people decide to make the leap between jobs with a lower wages and jobs with the higher ones. It also could cost those workers because their companies might cut back on hours or rely more on technology to offset the added bump in payroll costs.

Third, it’s too fast. The current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour will nearly double in just five years. That’s good for workers, maybe. But that doesn’t give their industries enough time to adapt to the new expenses.

On the business side, not all fast-food restaurants are run by multi-billion-dollar national companies. Many are owner-operated restaurants or franchises, owned by local small businessmen. Maybe the CEO of McDonald’s won’t take a hit from the higher wage, but the local Taco Bell franchise owner might. Not enough consideration was given to those owners.

The other problem with this is the way the governor went about skirting the Legislature to get this done. We elect representatives for just this role. On Tuesday in Los Angeles, the decision to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers was made by the elected county and city officials, not the governor and his minions.

A decision with such widespread, complex impacts should not be made by a single unelected board designed by the governor to produce a predetermined outcome and carried out by the governor’s own appointee.

This was a decision to be made by all the people we elected to represent us in Albany, not just one.

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