Business Owners React to NJ Minimum Wage Hike

By Lauren Wanko

Here’s one businessman who’s happy to pay his employees $1 an hour more after voters last night overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage. Starting Jan. 1, workers will see those wages increase from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour.

“I think it’s a good idea actually. I think giving that extra dollar will give more customer service, my employees will be a little happier. It’s tough working for that amount as it is. That dollar will help out a lot of people,” said Stay Gold Café & Lounge owner Barry Petersen.

“We really do think this is going to hurt a lot of small business people and the hurt the very people this is intended to help,” said Philip Kirschner President of the NJ Business & Industry Association.

New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s Phil Kirschner lobbied against the ballot question.

“It’s bad for New Jersey because small business owners cant absorb a 14 percent increase in wages when they don’t have any increases in revenue or sales, so that’s gonna result in cutting hours and shifts for people who you’re trying to help,” Kirschner said.

Senate President Steve Sweeney calls the minimum wage increase one of his greatest victories as a legislator.

“You have to stand for something and believe in something, and this is something I believe in. This state is not going to be destroyed by the minimum wage and I gotta tell you, I’ve been insulted by the business community comments about how disgraceful this is to do it through the constitution,” Sweeney said. “We amended the constitution for bingo, now think about it, we can’t make people’s lives better?”

“This extra dollar will help. It will mean so much of a difference,” said 20-year-old minimum wage worker Tayzia Treadwell.

Going forward, minimum wage in New Jersey will be tied to the consumer price index. If the cost of living goes up, the minimum wage will go up each year.

“Well of course an increase is an increase. It’s more money off my bottom line, but I think it’s fair,” said Jimmy’s Place owner Jimmy Kumaras.

As for business owner Barry Petersen, he can’t wait to hand out the heftier checks.