The minimum wage movement is gathering momentum across the United States, with hikes passed in LA, San Francisco and Seattle, and New York now following suit. A panel led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo voted Yes on proposals to introduce a $15 minimum wage for the city’s fast food workers. The increase is set to be phased in over the next six years years. However, the instigator of the New York wage hike faces accusations of “stacking” the panel which voted on the proposal.
The Business Council called the recommendations given by Cuomo’s board “a foregone conclusion.” The New York Post pointed out that all three members of the panel had come out in favour of the proposal before their study even began. Aside from accusations of a biased panel, there is also evidence from Seattle suggesting the hike may not achieve its stated purpose. A common defense of the minimum wage has been that it helps poor workers get off benefits. In Seattle, where the minimum was upped to $15 in April, workers have allegedly been asking for less hours in order to keep receiving government benefits. Statistics from the Congressional Budget Office also show that 80% of the benefits of such a wage hike would go to people who are already living above the poverty line.
The costs for restaurant owners could also be high; the Post spoke to one restaurant owner who had already decided to move his business to Kentucky where the minimum wage is lower, and small businesses worry they will be squeezed out by the new proposal. Fast-food restaurants have now turned to lawyers to fight the proposal, meaning the final decision may lie with the courts.
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