New York Approves $15 Minimum Wage

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo followed closely on the heels of California yesterday, announcing an agreement with Albany lawmakers to raise the NY State minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next few years. The increase will begin with for workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), who will have a minimum wage of $11 at the end of 2016, and an additional $2 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2018.

The national labor rights movement has been fighting for $15 since 2012, and roughly half of the 50 states have increased their minimums somewhat (although the Federal minimum is still set at $7.25 due to congressional opposition). The final legislation in NY has not been approved, so it’s unclear how it will affect tipped workers. The tipped minimum in New York increased recently to $7.50, precipitating some of the gratuity-free movement. Additional increases would almost certainly prompt more NYC restaurants to raise prices and eliminate tipping altogether.

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Free Burritos Can’t Help Chipotle Recover before 2018, But Maybe Burgers Can?

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Chipotle’s next move?

After their colossal – and well publicized – downfall, Chipotle has been doing everything possible to get back in customer’s good graces. That includes giving away about 9 million free burritos earlier this month, according to the chain (that’s $62 million worth, if anyone’s counting). They plan to send another 21 million free food coupons in the mail this month. But analysts from Wedbush Securities point out that, while sales may be returning slowly, the coupon strategy isn’t a sustainable one. Eventually, guests have to forget the reason they stopped coming in the first place.

The investment firm downgraded Chipotle’s shares and cut their target stock price from $450 to $400, saying that “current valuation reflects an overly optimistic outlook regarding Chipotle’s path to recovery.” They do not expect Chipotle to recover the sales lost from the salmonella, norovirus and E. Coli outbreaks until at least 2018.

One curveball to these predictions may be the news that Chipotle has applied for a trademark on the name “Better Burger,” indicating they have plans to recoup the losses in another way. It’s a strange move considering the number of existing burger chains, and there’s no word yet from Chipotle on how they plan to market themselves in this arena.

To read more, click here and here.