In January, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer made the case to the State Senate that a $15 minimum wage would be good even for “smaller businesses.” He pointed to the example of Brooklyn Brine, “a pickle manufacturer in Sunset Park [that] pays workers at least $16 an hour.”
It’s telling that an artisanal pickle maker that prides itself on “hand-crafted, non-GMO, Kosher-certified” fare and a “spicy maple bourbon” flavored variety that sells for $10 per jar is Stringer’s model small business. Notably, he didn’t mention the numerous Ecuadorian restaurants, Chinese dumpling houses, and Mexican coffee shops in the same predominantly immigrant neighborhood.
Indeed, companies like Brooklyn Brine, which sells unique products to an upper-middle-class clientele, will probably do just fine now that the $15 minimum wage is a reality in New York State. (The increase will take full effect in the Big Apple on December 31, 2018.) It’s all the other stores and restaurants in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park that could theoretically be wiped out.
They probably won’t be, however, for a simple reason that neither Stringer nor just about anyone else debating the $15 minimum’s impact is talking about: Enforcement is weak.