Fight For $15? More Than 3/4 of NYC Eateries Reduced Hours In 2018

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A #FightFor15 protest in New York City

Unintended Consequences? Though the Fight For $15 movement has increased wages in New York City, employers are cutting jobs and cutting back employees’ hours.

A decade after the Service Employees International Union devised a scheme to unionize the fast-food industry by conducting a “living wage campaign” in certain key cities—which later morphed into the so-called “Fight for 15” movement—the union’s $100+ million campaign has convinced some localities to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

In New York, one of the union’s early targets where the SEIU succeeded in getting Democrat governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation increasing minimum wage to $15 an hour, the effects are being felt across New York City—and especially among the City’s restaurants.

Across the state of New York, employers have some time before the minimum wage increases to a full $15, as the phase-in time is different.



However, in the City, the minimum wage is now $15 for employers with more than 11 employees and the wage for those who work primarily for tips jumped from $8.65 to $10 an hour in January.

As a result, for many employers in the restaurant industry, the (un)expected consequences are beginning to be felt as a majority of restaurants have, or plant to cut their employees’ hours as a result of the higher wage mandate.



According to a survey released in January by the New York Hospitality Alliance, more than 75% of full service restaurant respondents cut employees’ hours in 2018 and more than half of limited service restaurants will cut jobs in 2019.

“76.50% of full service restaurant respondents reduced employee hours, and 36.30% eliminated jobs in 2018, in response to mandated wage increases. 75% of limited service restaurant respondents report that they will reduce employee hours, and 53.10% will eliminate jobs in 2019 as a result of mandated wage increases that took effect on December 31, 2018”

To make matters worse, unions and their Democrat allies in Congress have introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 nationwide.

While it stands no chance of becoming law before the 2020 general elections, depending on the outcome of 2020, a $15 minimum wage could become a reality.

If it does, its impact on the job market and unemployment will have consequences. The question is, will they be good or bad for workers?

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