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Business groups to campaign against minimum wage hike

Fast food workers converge in downtown Manhattan on

Fast food workers converge in downtown Manhattan on July 22, 2015, ahead of New York State wage board's public meeting to call for a $15 industry-wide minimum wage. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

ALBANY -- New York business operators and their lobbying groups Wednesday are scheduled to begin the fight against the Democratic push to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The state Business Council and the National Federation of Independent Business will lead a coalition of employers, including those running large retail stores, farms, hotels, service companies, restaurants and tourism operations, under what they call the Minimum Wage Reality Check Campaign.

The group argues a $15-an-hour minimum wage -- $31,200 a year -- would force some small and large businesses as well as farmers to cut jobs, while some would go out of business. The group will tell Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that adopting the nation's highest minimum wage would increase local taxes as well the prices of clothing, groceries and other goods. The group told Newsday the proposal is "simply unaffordable."

New York's minimum wage of $8.25 an hour will rise to $9 after Dec. 31 as a result of a 2013 law. That's when the minimum wage was raised to $8, from $7.25 an hour, which is still the national minimum wage.

Washington, D.C., increased its minimum wage to $10.50 an hour in July, breaking the $10 mark among states and territories, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a half-dozen states raised their rates since 2014. Meanwhile, income inequality has become a major issue in the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative nonpartisan think tank, plans to release a report on the economic impact to employers and governments of a $15 minimum wage Thursday.

In September, the Quinnipiac University poll found 62 percent of New Yorkers polled supported a $15 minimum wage, with the strong support from Democrats and those living in high-cost New York City and its suburbs. Sixty-five percent of Republicans opposed it.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio first called for a $15 minimum wage last spring, before Los Angeles adopted the wage as the city's minimum.

At a rally in September, Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden called for the wage as part of a "march towards economic justice." But Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said that, while raising the minimum wage is politically popular, there are serious concerns to be debated.

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