East Fishkill, NY - Family farmers and small business owners joined together yesterday at Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction to ask state lawmakers to oppose the $15 minimum wage. The April first budget deadline is just days away, and the coalition remains united in its efforts to defeat what will be a tough blow to local employers.
The consequences of a 67% wage hike are far reaching. The small businesses shared their personal stories of what this will mean to each of them, including the decisions that will have to be made to compensate for the major increase in labor costs. A reduction in the number of employees and an increase automation are on the table should this proposal pass in Albany.
The impacts will be felt statewide. A recent report conducted by the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that at least 200,000 jobs will be lost across the state. A separate independent analysis by Farm Credit East estimates a $15 minimum wage in New York State would cost farmers between $387 and $622 million in 2021 at the peak of the wage rollout and nearly 2,000 farms would no longer be profitable. Businesses that cant make money, dont stay in business.
Because of the statewide ramifications, the event coincided with more than a dozen others in communities across New York that were organized by Farm Bureau. It is a final push to make the compelling point to lawmakers that there are serious consequences, from job to loss to higher consumer prices, should New York pass a $15 minimum wage. The small business owners asked their local lawmakers to vote no on $15.
"The push for a $15 minimum wage is being driven not by economics or even a desire to help the working poor. The drive for a $15 minimum wage, a sixty percent hike on the current minimum wage that just went up on January 1, 2015, is being driven by raw politics. The way to help the working poor is not to hurt small businesses, farmers, not-for-profits, school districts and taxpayers with yet another unfunded mandate that will make our state less competitive and eliminate an estimated 200,000 jobs statewide. As Governor Cuomo's own father recognized, the way to help the working poor and avoid all of the collateral damage of a huge minimum wage hike is to expand the New York State Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit more low income New Yorkers." - Kieran Lalor, Assemblyman District 105
As dairy farmers, my family has invested in robotic milkers to minimize our exposure to increased labor costs. It is not simply the higher minimum wage that is the problem, as my family has not hired anyone at minimum wage in years, it is the fact that everyone will require a commensurate increase over minimum. Some dairy farmers will be able to weather this storm, but I fear that with the high percentage of a vegetable farms costs being in labor all the vegetables being purchased in the metro New York area will not be produced in NY. Despite politicians rhetoric for local foods, this shows that their rhetoric does not match reality. - Eric Ooms, Farmer & Vice President of New York Farm Bureau
Additional quotes from business owners and Chamber of Commerce:
At Fishkill Farms during the summer and fall, we hire up to 45 high school students and for many of them this is their first job. Therefore, at $15 dollars an hour minimum wage would have multiple impacts on that practice. First of all, it would increase the cost dramatically of doing business. Perhaps more importantly, we would be hiring more adults and as a result the training and introduction to the workforce that these youths receive would not be available any longer, nor the cash in their pockets. To me, the unintended consequences of meddling in the market place are wide ranging and for, outweigh any benefits that law makers might be considering. - Mark Doyle, Vice President of the Dutchess Putnam Westchester County Farm Bureau
We grow garden plants and we compete directly with Dan Schantz Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA were they supply to all of Lowes in Dutchess County. Labor is 47% of our expenses and if minimum wage goes to $15 an hour it will increase our cost of labor to 67%. With PA at $7.25 an hour it will be impossible to compete. Right now Adams Greenhouse produces 170,000 tomato plants for home gardeners to plant in their garden and it would be a shame if these plants were not grown locally. Mark Adams, Owner of Adams Greenhouse and President of the Dutchess Putnam Westchester County Farm Bureau.
As a small business man, I am fully aware of the need for people to make a living. But, making a mandatory $15/hr minimum wage is not the answer. In New York State agriculture we talk about being competitive globally and were not event competitive now state to state. Businesses of all types get larger often times to lower their labor costs per unit of output. As a rule, small businesses; particularly in agriculture, are more labor intensive. The mandatory minimum wage will hurt all businesses and especially labor intensive smaller businesses. If there are no businesses left, there are no jobs. Jim Davenport, Owner of Tollgate Holsteins and President of the Columbia County Farm Bureau.
As far as minimum wage, it is going to be detrimental for community and businesses. I strongly oppose the minimum wage law they are trying to pass, for it will destroy jobs and not create any. As a business owner we take care of our workers very well, and if this law takes place we will have to cut jobs. -Emanuele Marinaro, Owner of the Blue Fountain Restaurant
If these mandates are passed, many small businesses, family farms and nonprofit service providers will lay off workers or reduce employees hours or be forced out of business. The governor has also not considered that if you increase wages, all taxes and fees correlated with a business payroll will also increase. New York State is already one of the worst states in the US for business. According to the Tax Foundation in Washington, DC, the 2015 Business Tax Climate Index Ranks New York State 49 out of 50. This index compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business: cooperate taxes, individual income taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, and on property, including residential, commercial and farm property. - Audra Gerty, Executive Vice President and CFO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce