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Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Ben and Jerry’s, Small Business Owners Upstate and Downstate Say Raise Good for Business, Economy

Contact: Bob Keener,, 617-610-6766

NEW YORK, April 1, 2016 – Business leaders across New York are voicing support for the plan passing today to gradually raise the state’s current $9 minimum wage to $15 as good for business and the economy. Two of our nation’s highest cost of living states – New York and California – will be phasing in a $15 minimum wage. The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 30,000 businesses, Ben and Jerry’s, Spectronics Corporation, Amalgamated Bank, IceStone, Ithacamade and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York were among numerous business organizations and small business owners who provided testimony and advocated in favor of a $15 state minimum wage.

“An increased minimum wage is the right move for businesses and workers alike,” said Cynthia DiBartolo, Chairperson of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce. “The economy will benefit from the increased spending. This is exactly the catalyst that will keep businesses in this great State growing, reduce inequity, and empower consumers to spend more money in their community.”

“Our business is in full support of increasing New York's minimum wage to $15 statewide,” said Jason Schuler, Founder and President of Drink More Good, in Beacon.“We have a retail shop, a commissary kitchen and a national wholesale operation. Paying fair wages has been central to the success of our business and raising the minimum wage will be very good for New York.”

Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said, “New York’s minimum wage has fallen far behind the cost of living and raising it will provide a much stronger foundation for businesses and the state economy. When businesses pay wages employees can actually live on, turnover drops, productivity goes up, and business leaders can focus more on improving their business for the long term. New York and California’s minimum wage raises are an important investment in shared prosperity and progress.”

“Ben & Jerry’s has paid a living wage for more than 20 years and today, April 1, that basic starting wage will increase to $17.09 per hour,” said Jeff Furman, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Ithaca resident. “This principle spares our employees the struggle of trying to make it on wages that don’t even cover basic expenses. In return, our company is spared the cost of high turnover and is boosted by greater worker morale and commitment. New York State made a significant step to increase wages over time and we should applaud those who made this happen. However, we need to continue to move aggressively towards a living wage principle while helping our small business community.”

“Earning a living wage is not about politics,” said Keith Mestrich, President & CEO of Amalgamated Bank. “It’s about giving hardworking people a chance at a better life and strengthening our economy. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership, a living wage will be a reality. We commend the Governor, Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader on a plan that will bring minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years, as this will allow for businesses to adjust while also ensuring workers are given the chance to succeed.”

Jon Cooper, President and Co-Owner of Spectronics Corporation in Westbury, said, “Raising the minimum wage encourages better business practices. An inadequate minimum wage fits the old adage, ‘Penny wise and pound foolish.’ Employers who invest in their workforce have employees who are more invested in the company and in satisfying its customers. A higher minimum wage will result in increased employee retention, lower hiring and training costs, fewer mistakes that cost time and money, and increased productivity.”

Don Guidi, President of Paper House Productions in Saugerties, said, “Paying fair wages has been core to our business model and our success. Raising the minimum wage to $15 is the right thing to do for our employees – increasing productivity, loyalty and sustainability in our business, and ultimately improving the New York economy.”

“Many of the big chains count on taxpayers to subsidize them by providing food stamps and other public assistance to their workers who can’t make ends meet on poverty wages,” said Jan Rhodes Norman, Owner of Silk Oak and Ithacamade. “Raising the minimum wage to a more realistic level helps level the playing field for Main Street businesses like mine that believe in treating our employees fairly and investing in the communities in which we live, work, and do business.”

“From retail to manufacturing, from the food industry to e-commerce, we’ve spent decades helping businesses improve and grow,” said Ajax Greene, CEO and Founder of On Belay Business Advisors Inc. in Gardiner. “We think it vital that everyone who works is compensated fairly. Raising the New York State minimum wage to $15 is a win-win-win for employees, business and our economy.”

“The agreement to raise New York’s minimum wage is welcome news. This boost from the bottom up is just what we need for a healthier economy and more livable, vibrant communities,” said Scott Tillitt, founder of Beahive in Beacon with locations in Albany and Kingston. “Raising the minimum wage will provide a stronger floor for entrepreneurs to build on. It’s the right thing to do economically, and it’s the fair thing for our fellow citizens.”

Dal LaMagna, CEO of IceStone, which recently hosted US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez at its Brooklyn Navy Yard manufacturing plant, said, “Raising the minimum wage will make our economy better. Workers making low wages are the people most likely to spend their additional income – increasing consumer spending at businesses throughout New York. Increasing New York’s minimum wage to $15 will be a needed boost to businesses and our state.”

David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council and lifetime New Yorker, said, “Raising the minimum wage addresses the largest problem business leaders see with today’s economy: weak consumer demand. We support raising New York’s minimum wage to $15 to strengthen our wage base, businesses, and economy for sustainable job creation.”

New York City’s minimum wage will increase to $15 by December 31, 2018 – with small businesses with 10 or fewer employees having until December 2019. In Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the minimum wage will gradually increase to $15 in December 2021. The minimum wage in Upstate New York will increase to $12.50 at the end of 2020, and then be increased through a formula based on various indices until it reaches $15.

In California, the minimum wage will gradually increase statewide from $10 now to $15 an hour by January 1, 2022. Businesses of 25 or fewer employees will have an extra year to comply, reaching $15 on January 1, 2023.

To interview the business people above and other New York business people, please contact: Bob Keener, 617-610-6766,

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.