Business Owners Discuss Minimum Wage Concerns

It's $10.40/hour now and only planned to increase

Mike Baggerman
August 16, 2018 - 3:00 am

Rusty Nickel Brewing Company. August 15, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Upstate New York currently has a minimum wage of $10.40 with plans to increase it to $12.50 by 2020. 

Proponents of the rise in minimum wage said that doing so provides a living wage for people who often have to juggle multiple jobs to make a living. However, small business owners argue that rising minimum wages affects their bottom line, especially in the food service industry.

"My frustrations with minimum wage only reside in that small business struggle as it is not only to compete but to keep operating costs down," Jason Havens of Rusty Nickel Brewing Company said. "Follow through with all the taxes that come through with every aspect of the business."

Havens said he understands that there's the need for people to making a living wage, but that a minimum wage is not something that's meant to be a career. 

"It is unusual for our staff not to come home with $20 to $25 an hour in pay in addition to what they're already making with minimum wage," he added. "We don't see a need for a rise in the minimum wage."

Meanwhile, companies like McDonalds can survive the increase in minimum wage. The fast-food empire announced this week that its investing $320 million in New York throughout this year and next on the construction and modernization of 360 restaurants, including those in New York State. 

The upgrades include modernized dining rooms, new self-order kiosks, remodeled counters, new digital menus, and designated parking spots through mobile order and pay. 

Those self-order kiosks have been widely seen as a "job killer", but local franchisee Dave Freiman said that's not the case.

"We have a person dedicated to that kiosk," Freiman, who owns four locations in WNY, said. "We have a person dedicated to table service. The amount of staff on hand is actually higher."

He said that McDonalds, which operates using local franchisees like Freiman, are not cutting any jobs regardless of what the minimum wage is.

New York State Assemblyman Erik Bohen told WBEN that he supports equal and fair pay for everyone, though small business owners need to be considered in conversations about the hike in minimum wage. 

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