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Cuomo puts fast food in the fast lane

July 9, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Andrew Cuomo has crowned himself Burger King of the Empire State.

The governor couldn't push a minimum wage increase through the state Legislature this year, so he took the task into his own hands - for the fast-food industry, at least.

New York's minimum wage will climb from $8.75 to $9 at year's end, but on the heels of statewide pressure from industry employees, Cuomo appointed a special wage board to examine - and most likely increase - pay for fast-food workers. Wage board members believe workers at McDonald's, Burger King and a host of other chain restaurants require a government-mandated pay raise to escape poverty.

Many fast-food employees rallying at wage board meetings want the government to hand them $15-per-hour jobs flipping burgers, and on Monday, the three members of the governor's wage board agreed with that in principle, according to Chairman Byron Brown, who is also Buffalo's mayor. Once thought of as entry-level work for high school students and young adults, fast-food jobs should apparently support families and offer fulfilling careers.

What about everyone else?

In Essex County, the average income was $26,582, or $12.78 per hour for a full-timer.

In neighboring Franklin County, per-capita annual income averaged just $21,575 from 2009 to 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That trails the state average by almost $11,000. A full-time, 40-hour-a-week worker making Franklin County's average would receive $10.37 per hour.

Many local residents have spent many years working their way up to wages far below $15 an hour.

Many college graduates, some of whom have invested six figures into their education, will now make less than entry-level fast food workers if the governor gets his way. Perhaps those with bachelor's degrees will apply for work at Wendy's to make more money and pay off those pesky student loans. The governor plays the role of the Hamburglar, stealing away any monetary advantages the educated and hard working may have earned.

The National Federation of Independent Business says Cuomo didn't get their order right and that the wage board will leave small business owners in a pickle. The NFIB further notes the full-time fast-food minimum salary would climb to $31,200 at the suggested $15-per-hour rate, far exceeding entry wages for preschool teachers and substance abuse counselors.

Don't bother writing your legislators about a fast-food minimum wage, however; lawmakers have nothing to do with it. Cuomo's commission members can have it their way without legislative approval.

It looks like those who have lobbied for increased fast-food wages will bite into the governor's extra-value meal specially designed for them, leaving the rest of the workforce with the bitter aftertaste.



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