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By Thomas C. Zambito
lohud/ Gannett, May 3, 2023. Also Yahoo News, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Utica Observer Dispatch, Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal, Times Herald Record (Middletown), The Leader (Corning), more

The state’s minimum wage will increase to $17 per hour in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County over the next three years and $16 farther north as part of New York's final budget deal. ...

A coalition of 300 businesses calling themselves New York Business for a Fair Minimum Wage pushed the administration for a $21.25 minimum by 2026.

The group cited statistics from the MIT Living Wage Calculator to compare wages in New York to Nebraska, which plans to raise its minimum to $15 per hour by 2026. It takes $15.73 an hour for an adult working full time in Nebraska to cover basic life expenses while the same worker in New York would need $21.46.

“Why should New York lag behind the Nebraska minimum wage, adjusted for cost of living?” the coalition asked in one of its mailings.

Among the coalition members is Jessica Galen, the owner of Bloomy Cheese & Provisions in the Westchester County village of Dobbs Ferry.

Cheese mongers require special on-the-job skills – cutting cheese with a sharp knife while greeting customers as they walk in, Galen says.

It’s a skill that times time to develop, helped along by the hours Galen spends training each new employee.

“If I lose an employee and then I have to bring someone else on, it’s not just my time in the training of that person, it’s all the lost opportunities of not doing the other things I need to be doing to build my small business,” she said.

Higher wages will improve the chances her workers feel they have a stake in building the business, feel an attachment to the community and will stick around longer.

“Keeping the community front and center is everything in my business model, starting with the employees,” she said. “That’s a huge part of it.”

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