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Commack Biz Community Chilly on Minimum Wage Boost

Business leaders say wage hikes would burden local business owners.

In his State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) announced that he would raise New York’s minimum wage to $8.75, but local business and employee representatives are skeptical of the proposal.

Cuomo called today’s minimum wage standard of $7.25 an hour, “unlivable.” He said that New York's current hourly rate is below that of 19 other states. “It’s long overdue,” he said.

While it may be near impossible to live on Long Island with a minimum wage job, Albert Breud, who practices employment law in Commack, said that he is doubtful employees in many industries will actually see their wages go up, even if an increase is passed.

“I’m a skeptic because I see in my practice a lot of non-compliance right now with the current minimum wage standards,” Breud said. 

He said that he’s seen a tendency of employers, particularly in the food service industry to be one the biggest culprits. “It could be because a lot of immigrants might be scared to stand up and initiate action,” he said.

Every month the attorney comes across cases involving wage and hour disputes, often finding that area restaurants and other businesses are not paying proper overtime, even at the state's current standards.

As Long Island businesses are in the process of recovering from both a recession and superstorm Sandy, the burden of additional employment costs is also an uncertainty for business owners.

"It will be interesting to see if it will create more hardship for employers and to see what they will actually pay, and what kind of retribution there will be if employers do not comply with new standards," Breud said.

For Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, the answer is clear: raising the minimum wage is bad for business.

Law, who is a Saint James resident and former member of the Board of Ethics for the Town of Smithtown, said in a letter to the governor that raising the minimum wage would burden business owners.

"It would diminish our state’s competitiveness, increase layoffs, and raise the cost of doing business for large and small companies," he said in the letter.

The Long Island Association, a leading business organization in the region, is opposed to both the proposed minimum wage hike, as well as the state's efforts to to have the wage adjusted each year for inflation.

"The free market should dictage wage hikes, not the government," Law said.

What do you think? Would you be able to live on $7.25 an hour? Can business owners afford a minimum wage increase? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Michael lewis January 15, 2013 at 07:37 AM
I think we need the raise we cant live on 7.25 a hour new yorks cant live with that little bit of money I say let the people who say no to the raise try and live their life on a 7.25 budget and I bet their mind will change
Alex DeFrancisci January 15, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Its fine for rural agricultural jobs that mainly employ transients but a person can not live anywhere in NY making 7.25/hr
Rafael Rivas January 16, 2013 at 12:55 AM
NY Is One Of The Most Expensive States To Live In Everything Cost More Yet Our Minimun Wage Is $7.25 Its Not Easy Living Off Of $7.25 Especially When One Has Children ..... RICH IS GETTING RICHER THE POOR IS GETTING POORER
pbug56 January 16, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Like a lot of people with retail jobs around here, I get below minimum wage plus a very low commission rate. Some days I don't even get up to minimum wage after commissions the rates are so low. My annual pay will likely be lower then my property tax on my now fairly run down small house.

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