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RBA's Samuels On Minimum Wage Raise To $15: 'We Were Not In Favor'

Al Samuels, President/CEO of Rockland Business Association. Photo Credit: File photo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was successful in his fight for the state legislature to pass legislation boosting New York's minimum wage to $15. Photo Credit:

Passage of a phased-in hike in the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour was generally praised by many elected officials but panned by some business leaders.

All Samuels, president and CEO of the Rockland Business Association, said, "Obviously we were not in favor of this."

But Samuels said he was pleased that the compromise included an annual study of the economic impact of the minimum wage increases.

"Rockland County was appropriately and finally identified as 'upstate' for the passage of this,'' Samuels added, meaning its minimum wage increases will kick in later than in New York City, Westchester and Long Island.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders reached an agreement on new minimum wages as part of the 2016-17 budget deal approved late Thursday.

Wages will begin to increase in January under terms of the plan, with New York City hitting to $15 within three years.

Workers in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, will see an increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on Dec. 31, 2021.

For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage would increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another .70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on Dec. 31, 2020 – after which will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.

Businesses that have fewer than 10 employees will get to $15 within four years.

Samuels said small businesses are also concerned about passage of paid family leave as part of the state budget, since about 67 percent of Rockland County's companies employ four or fewer workers.

The paid leave ensures families can afford to take time off for the birth of a child or to care for a sick loved one. Under the new law, employees will be granted 12-weeks of paid family leave while receiving up to two-thirds of their regular pay.

State Sen. David Carlucci, a Democrat from New City, praised the measure.

"Through a phase-in over four years, New York State will implement the best paid family leave program in the country,'' Carlucci said in a press statement.

For an earlier Daily Voice report on the budget agreement, click here.

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