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By Samantha Christmann
Buffalo News, March 7, 2023. Also in the Auburn Citizen, Post Star (Glens Falls)

The state's minimum wage is headed toward $15 per hour. But a group of business owners said it doesn't go far enough to ensure an appropriate wage for working people, and are pushing to tie the minimum wage to inflation. Advocates of the Raise the Wage Act say gains made by minimum wage increases have been eroded by inflation. The bill calls for indexing the minimum wage – tying it to inflation rates and moving the minimum wage by a corresponding percentage annually. And, to make up for the years that didn't happen, it calls for increasing the minimum wage to $21.25 per hour. ...

Aaron Bartley, owner of Fitz Books and Waffles on Ellicott Street, is one of the 35 Buffalo- area businesses that is part of the New York Business for a Fair Minimum Wage Coalition. He said it's in his own best interest to pay workers more, because workers are customers.

"A lot of folks who read books are workers, too. They are counting their pennies and they love buying used books, and I know that if they had a few extra dollars they'd buy a few extra books," he said.

Paying more has helped Bartley retain workers, too, he said. ... "Turnover is costly."

Many of the 200 businesses in the coalition are small firms ... Annie Adams, owner of consignment shop Second Chic on Elmwood Avenue, has 12 workers.

"Most businesses in Buffalo and across New York are small businesses like mine," she said. "The minimum wage should be a decent wage floor, however many employees you have."

Second Chic pays a starting wage of $15 per hour and gives annual raises, bonuses and sales commissions.

"I’m not worried about being able to afford increasing our starting wage under the proposed legislation because I’ve seen firsthand how investing in employees generates business growth," Adams said. "There is no way we would be able to grow as we have without the dedication and expertise of our employees." ...

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