Bill targets low wages paid by company linked to Governor Kathy Hochul’s husband
State lawmakers want the company that employs Governor Kathy Hochul’s husband to pay its workers more — or risk losing any chance of lucrative contracts at the new Buffalo Bills stadium it forced on US taxpayers State and local to the tune of $850 million.
New York’s First Gentleman, Bill Hochul, is senior vice president and general counsel for Delaware North, a company that operates “concessions, upscale restaurants, and retail services” in what is now Bills Stadium.
The sprawling company also operates a range of businesses on four continents, including a restaurant group that oversees catering services at places like the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Opera, according to the company’s website.
Newly introduced legislation would require any company wishing to do business at state-funded professional sports facilities to pay restaurant branch workers the full minimum wage rather than the tip wage allowed by state law.
“We still have a two-tier minimum wage system… a starting point [changing things] is with this stadium, which is publicly funded, so we’re not using taxpayer dollars to fund sub-minimum wages,” Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn) told The Post. .
Restaurant workers in New York City earn as little as $10 an hour before tips, while their upstate counterparts earn even less.
Any company wishing to do business in publicly supported stadiums, arenas and related facilities should pay workers in restaurants and other services the lower state minimum wage of $15 or the minimum of 13 $.20 in upstate under a bill sponsored by Brisport and Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens).
They say the legislation follows an agreement reached a few weeks ago by Erie County’s Hochul and the team owned by Florida billionaire couple Terry and Kim Pegula.
The state would pay at least $600 million of the $1.4 billion price tag for the controversial new stadium, with an additional $250 million coming from local county funds – a deal a recent poll shows most New Yorkers oppose it.
“If all this money is to be invested in stadiums, all stadiums that receive state money should contract with employers who pay minimum wage – not just in their stadiums but in all of their facilities,” said Saru Jayaraman, Chairman. of One Fair Wage supporting the bill, told the Post.
“They have the ability to pay the state minimum wage,” Kim said of Delaware North.
The Queens Democrat added that he remained hopeful the bill could pass the Legislature before lawmakers leave Albany for the year on June 2.
The Hochul administration — which did not respond to a request for comment on the pending bill — said Bill Hochul is recused from state business.
But a potentially lucrative contract at the Bills’ future stadium would nonetheless help the bottom line of the company which paid him somewhere around half a million dollars last year, according to published financial disclosures by the governor’s office on Tuesday.
Advocacy groups like New York Communities for Change, the worker-backed Strong Economy for All coalition and One Fair Wage say the bill will help level the playing field for service and restaurant workers who have suffered the weight of the pandemic and historically high inflation.
“New York is one of 43 states that has this sub-minimum wage…And it’s now become virtually unlivable,” Jayaraman said.