Rochester Chamber Joins Statewide Coalition Against $15 Minimum Wage

Rochester Business Alliance/Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce joined a coalition of 26 organizations representing a wide range of businesses and industries in opposition to a statewide $15 minimum wage. The coalition, which is expected to grow as the adverse impacts of a $15 minimum wage are better understood, is comprised of groups that are committed to educating the public about how such a massive minimum wage increase would harm all New Yorkers.

"The perpetual effort to increase the minimum wage has squarely put the viability of small businesses across New York in peril," said Mike Durant, NFIB\NY state director. "This unprecedented 

"New York Farms are simply unable to afford a $15 minimum wage in this day of national and global competition that already lead to razor thin margins. The Governor's proposal will increase the costs on farms across the state by $500 million dollars, when our business environment is already suffering. This is not the way to invest in the upstate and rural economy in New York," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau.

"The Governor's minimum wage proposal is simply too much, too fast," said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. "Areas of New York, especially upstate, are experiencing little or no economic growth and have yet to regain the jobs lost during the Great Recession. Forcing businesses to artificially inflate wages now will result in fewer worker hours, automation, and closures. Albany lawmakers should work with us on promoting business-friendly legislation and regulations that stimulate the economy and promote organic wage growth."

"The restaurant industry is reeling from a 50-percent increase to the tipped wage and the unprecedented fast food minimum wage increase," said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association. "This endless upward pressure on wages is coming too fast and too high for businesses to cope with and will surely lead to significant job losses and restaurant closures."

"It is counterproductive to make historic financial investments promoting all of the state's world-class tourism regions, venues and attractions, and then make it more difficult for tourism-related businesses to provide top-notch services through continued wage increases," said Jan Marie Chesterton, president of the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association.

"The plan to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour all across New York State will devastate the economy of Upstate New York," said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. "A 67 percent increase in labor costs for minimum wage jobs will force a fundamental reshuffling of the entire wage scale across Upstate where, unlike New York City, we currently enjoy a much more affordable cost of living.  As a result, this plan will result in fewer jobs and higher costs for everything for everyone. Upstate truly cannot afford this proposal."

"Further increasing the minimum wage will have a negative impact on Upstate businesses, the people they employ, and the products we purchase from them," said Lou Santoni, president and CEO, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. "A $15 minimum wage will put us at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states such as Pennsylvania. When considering the cost of doing business, employers will look to create jobs there instead of New York."

"At the end of the year our members will have to absorb a 50-percent increase in the cash wage of tipped workers in one fell swoop. That's a burden most owners will struggle to manage," said Scott Wexler, executive director, Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association. "In an industry that needs to increase sales by 2 percent each year just to stay even, an increase to $15 per hour will require a rate of growth no restaurant can meet. And that will spell dire consequences for our members and their employees."

"Three of the business sectors that will be most egregiously affected by a $15 minimum wage are retail, hospitality and home health services. In my county, these sectors account for almost 40 percent of our businesses and a similar percentage of our total workforce," said Al Samuels, president and CEO of the Rockland Business Association, Inc. "Add to that the fact that small business will bear the brunt of such a wage increase and Rockland, a border county with only three percent of its businesses having 50 or more employees, faces dramatic injury to its economy. Not good for Rockland. Not good for our region. Not good for New York."

"A minimum wage increase to $15 per hour will result in a 40- to 70-percent increase in labor expenses on New York vegetable farms. Labor is by far our largest expense in producing fresh market vegetables - about 50 percent of our cost of production," said  Brian Reeves, partner in Reeves Farms (Baldwinsville, NY) and president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association. "We would need to raise prices by at least 25- to 50-percent to maintain current operations.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to increase prices by this amount because competitors in neighboring states and Canada will undercut my prices due to their lower labor costs.  Therefore this minimum wage increase proposal will place New York's vegetable industry in peril."

"Small businesses are constrained by the reality of the marketplace," said James Calvin, President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. "Under New York's current economic conditions, a $15 minimum wage is a fantasy."

To learn more about the negative impacts of a $15 minimum wage, please visit and connect with the coalition via Facebook [] and Twitter

Members of the coalition include: 

  • New York Farm Bureau
  • The Business Council of New York State
  • Unshackle Upstate
  • Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors
  • The Associated General Contractors of New York State
  • New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association
  • New York State Restaurant Association
  • Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association
  • New York Association of Convenience Stores
  • Rochester Business Alliance
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • The Capital Region Chamber of Commerce
  • Rockland Business Association
  • Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce
  • Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce
  • New York State Agribusiness and Feed Alliance
  • Northeastern Retail Lumber Association
  • New York State Motor Truck Association
  • Ski Areas of New York
  • New York State Vegetable Growers Association
  • NY Alliance for Environmental Concerns
  • New York State Builders Association
  • New York Construction Materials Association
  • Northeast Dairy Foods Association, Inc.
  • Citizen Voices of Oneonta