The proposed “living wage” bill now before the City Council would have devastating consequences for Brooklyn and the many small businesses struggling to help our economy and neighborhoods to grow.
Under the legislation, any employer receiving at least $100,000 in government financial assistance — such as tax abatements, energy tax credits or bond financing — would be required to pay at least $10 an hour to its employees. The provisions would apply not only to employers receiving government benefits, but also to any tenant located in a building whose owner receives government aid.
This requirement — in effect, requiring thousands of retail shops and small manufacturers to pay this new higher wage — will discourage businesses from hiring and expanding, threaten the existence of many small businesses and lead to less, not more, employment.
The East Brooklyn Business Improvement District was created in 1987 to help rejuvenate one of the most blighted sections of our borough. But his bill will undermine our plans.
Our members agree that our employees should make a decent living so they can raise their families and support neighborhood businesses. But our businesses cannot be competitive and profitable if this bill becomes law.
This legislation would also impose crushing administrative burdens on small businesses covered by the bill. In addition to current overhead, our businesses would have to file annual reports to the city on their employment practices and keep records for at least 30 years. They would also be required to post notices—in English and any other language spoken by employees—listing the salary of every employee and telling them they can file complaints with the city.
Our members provide jobs and services in a part of Brooklyn which needs all the help it can get. Making it more difficult for businesses to survive and grow means our members will hire less workers. Some could even be put out business.
Small businesses like our members are the backbone of Brooklyn’s and the city’s economy. This legislation will hurt East New York and make it a less attractive place to live and work.
William Wilkins is the manager of the East Brooklyn Business Improvement District.