Farmers on a Minimum Wage Increase
SOUTHERN TIER -- [WENY] Farmers are saying a minimum wage hike will have a big impact on already suffering farms.
Some of the managers I talked to today said they already pay more than minimum wage, but if increases go through, there's gonna be pressure to increase those higher rates even more.
"Owners go into a business to make a profit," said Jim Delaney, manager at Grossman's Bargain Outlet. "It's not there for the employee, it's there for the owner and when his incentive to make profit gets decreased he's gonna make a decision- 'Do I raise the prices of my goods or B- do I cut back on my expenses?' Well an employee is considered an expense."
But, unlike a lot of businesses.. Farmer's don't have much control over all of those expenses.
"We don't set the price of milk, we don't set the price of beef, we don't set the price of eggs or vegetables or whatever it happens to be that we're growing, the price is set by the commodity market," said Ashur Terwilliger, District Director for N.Y. Farm Bureau.
Farmers like Ashur Terwilliger are worried a minimum wage hike on top of sky-high prices for fuel and feed will only make matters worse.
"Well I see these guys they're just not making it, they're holding on to their farms by their finger nails," said Terwilliger.
But people making minimum wage or close to it say they're barely holding on.
"It's hard to pay for anything or pay for rent, pay for NYSEG, basically everything," said Katelyn Johnson, a K-Mart employee.
Other low wage earners see the business side of a pay hike.
"I can see if it went up it would help; however, I know if it does go up gas prices and other things will go up and if it does go up too much companies will cut hours, so if you look at it that way you're not going to make as much," said Keith Stephens, a Family Dollar Employee.
And on Capitol Hill, Senator Kirsten Gilabrand is pushing to raise the federal minimum wage. She wants an increase to $10.10 an hour over the next three years, with future raises tied to the rate of inflation.