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$15 wage would not cause job losses, union leader says

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 about the $15 per hour minimum wage. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

The Long Island Federation of Labor Wednesday challenged a recent study showing more than 23,000 local jobs would be lost if the state minimum wage was increased to $15 per hour.

John R. Durso, the federation's president, said the study by the Long Island Association business group was "disproved" by "numerous" other studies.

"Business organizations in New York have made the same tired arguments opposing increases in the minimum wage for over 100 years," he said. "Contrary to their predictions about job losses, 600 economists -- including seven Nobel Prize winners -- stated in a letter to the President of the United States that 'Increases in the minimum wage had little to no negative effect on the employment of minimum wage workers.' "

Durso was responding to Tuesday's release of an eight-page analysis by the LIA of the potential impacts of a wage hike. The LIA hasn't yet taken a position on raising the minimum wage, according to its president, Kevin Law.

The LIA study found a wage increase would eliminate 23,400 jobs out of the 1.3 million on Long Island and lead local governments to raise an additional $54.4 million from property taxes to cover higher labor costs.

A wage hike also would boost local spending by $3 billion between next year and 2021, the report said. LIA officials said Tuesday those expenditures would add an undetermined number of jobs.

Durso said Wednesday higher salaries would reduce the amount that governments spend on food stamps and other public assistance.

He also said "the amount gained in payroll and income taxes . . . would produce savings for our state and municipal budgets."

The federation's member unions represent 250,000 workers in Nassau and Suffolk counties. It "fully supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour," Durso said.

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