One of the local companies backing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s drive to raise the state minimum wage previously shifted jobs from Long Island to Mexico, saying operating costs are lower there.
Spellman High Voltage Electronics Corp., which makes power supplies, laid off nearly 50 people in Bohemia and Hauppauge in 2014 as part of a plan to move its printed-circuit assembly work to Mexico, according to 2013 regulatory filings with the state Department of Labor.
In December 2013, Spellman human resources vice president David Edwards told Newsday that lower costs south of the border were a factor in the layoffs and the closing of a plant at 30 Crossways East in Bohemia.
Spellman had doubled the size of the Bohemia plant 10 years earlier to bring in house metal fabrication and machining work that had been done by subcontractors.
Earlier this month, Cuomo said 87 businesses and groups in the state, including Spellman, have endorsed his plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018 in New York City and by 2021 in the rest of the state.
A Spellman spokeswoman last week confirmed support for Cuomo’s plan but couldn’t explain the contrast between that endorsement and the company’s decision to shift jobs to Mexico to reduce expenses.
“We don’t have any further information coming out . . . We support increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour,” she said.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said yesterday the administration has reduced taxes to help businesses: “We’re proud to have the support of those who believe that full-time workers should not be condemned to a life of poverty.”
Raising the minimum wage is a key issue in ongoing negotiations between Cuomo and the State Legislature for the 2016-17 state budget, which must be adopted before Friday. Sources in the state Capitol said yesterday that talks are centered on a lower wage rate for upstate and a longer phase-in of the $15 rate in the New York City suburbs, including Long Island.
Spellman, founded in 1947, is headquartered in Hauppauge and has operations in upstate Valhalla and in Germany, Britain, Japan, China and South Korea. It has two factories in Matamoros, Mexico. The company’s workforce totals 1,400 people worldwide, including about 300 locally.
In addition to Spellman, local companies or business groups publicly endorsing Cuomo’s proposal include the Hauppauge-based Aerospace and Defense Diversification Alliance in Peacetime Transition, or ADDAPT; the American Hotel in Sag Harbor; Hempstead Coordinating Council of Civic Associations; the Long Island African- American Chamber of Commerce; and the ultraviolet lighting manufacturer Spectronics Corp. in Westbury.
Spectronics president Jon Cooper said, “A higher minimum wage will result in increased employee retention, lower hiring and training costs, fewer mistakes that cost time and money, and increased productivity.”
The Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, has said it opposes a $15 minimum wage.