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EDITORIAL: New York City offers a lesson on how to kill jobs

After their successful push to outlaw numerous jobs by imposing a $15 minimum wage, the New York City fast-food workers behind the “Fight for 15” are now targeting “unfair” firings. Apparently, they remain oblivious to the term “unintended consequences.”

As Bill Binion outlined recently at Reason.com, New York City’s latest minimum wage law, which went into effect Dec. 31, requires businesses employing 11 or more workers to raise wages from $13 to $15 per hour. Pay for those who work primarily for tips will jump from $8.65 to $10 an hour. If tipped-wage employees (such as servers and bartenders) don’t earn enough in gratuities, employers are now required to make up the difference.

The result has been entirely predictable. Scores of restaurants have raised prices, cut employee hours and eliminated jobs. Kiosks have replaced cashiers in some establishments, Mr. Binion points out. Busboys have been eliminated in many sit-down eateries.

Proving the axiom that every government intervention creates unforeseen issues that demand further government interventions — and repeat — progressives and their labor allies have concocted a scheme to make things even worse.

New York officials are now considering a proposal that would essentially block fast-food restaurant owners from firing employees — including, as many have already done, letting workers go as a result of economic concerns brought on by the new wage floor.

Under the proposed legislation, Mr. Binion explains, owners would have to show proof of serious misconduct before they could fire a worker. Those who lose their jobs would have the right to appeal their firings via arbitration or legal action. The new law would also block fast-casual businesses from cutting an employee’s hours by 15 percent or more unless they could provide a satisfactory reason for the reduction.

Why don’t New York bureaucrats just take over all the city’s burger, taco, chicken and sandwich joints?

A sister bill would take things further, requiring any firings to be based on seniority, regardless of performance.

Michael Lolito, a restaurant labor attorney, told Reason that the laws would leave small businesses susceptible to lawsuits and hasten the transition to automation, costing even more jobs. He’s obviously correct.

The New York proposals are, to be generous, flat-out nuts. Instead of promoting security and higher wages, they will trigger job losses and quash opportunity, particularly for young people and low-skilled workers looking to gain valuable experience that will help them advance.

Unfortunately, these awful ideas tend to spread among the progressive elites like kudzu. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has embraced a massive hike in the state’s minimum wage, which will no doubt spawn subsequent legislation intended to repair the damage wrought. Which prompts the question: Are any Democrats in Carson City paying attention to what’s going on financially in high-tax, overly regulated states such as New York, Illinois or New Jersey?

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