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New York's Wage Hike, a Seattle Copycat, Doubles IFA Ire


They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But to the International Franchise Association, New York’s new minimum wage mandate—a copy of Seattle’s—is nothing but a second example of discrimination.

A panel appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended Wednesday a $15-an-hour minimum wage for employees of fast-food chain restaurants with 30 or more stores nationally, to be phased in over five years. That would be a raise greater than 70 percent for those who get the state’s current minimum, $8.75.

That’s the same move made by Seattle, and like Seattle, New York’s proposal would treat franchisee-owned units of large restaurant chains like big businesses, rather than affording them a longer period of time to implement the increase like small businesses.

The IFA filed a high-profile suit against Seattle last July under the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution, claiming unfair discrimination against a group of businesses. A federal judge in March denied a petition to block the ordinance, and the IFA immediately appealed.

Steve Caldeira, IFA’s president and CEO, blasted New York’s move on the same grounds in a statement July 22. “If Gov. Cuomo wishes to advance a wage increase, it should cover all of New York’s businesses, not just a select few. IFA, along with the Coalition to Save New York Restaurants, will aggressively fight Gov. Cuomo’s politically motivated decision to discriminate against local franchise small business simply to satisfy the request of his allies at the Service Employees International Union.”

The SEIU is behind the minimum wage protests throughout the country, in what the IFA maintains is an effort to unionize restaurant workers to fill dwindling membership rolls.

Fast-food workers, holding SEIU purple and gold “stronger together” signs, cheered in Manhattan yesterday when hearing the committee’s decision, according to the New York Times. Supporters of the hike argue taxpayers subsidize the workforces of multinational corporations, like McDonald’s, that don’t pay enough to keep their workers from relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits.

“This is one of the really great days of my administration,” Cuomo tweeted July 22. “You cannot live and support a family on $18,000 in the State of NY, period.” He has long advocated for the hike, writing in the New York Times in May that “nowhere is the income gap more extreme and obnoxious than in the fast-food industry.”

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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