Fast food CEO: Why I'm against federal minimum wage


Dunkin' Brands CEO Nigel Travis doesn't have a problem with having a minimum wage. He just doesn't think it should be decided on a federal level.

'[H]aving a minimum wage is a highly appropriate thing in a country like this, but it should be decided state by state," he said in an interview. "It shouldn't be decided at the federal level because every state is different. We also don't think it should be decided city by city."

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This state-specific strategy would allow the rate to be tailored to the varying economic realities throughout the United States, where the unemployment rate ranges from 2.6 percent in North Dakota to 8.3 percent in Rhode Island.

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On the other hand, letting each city decide its own rate would result in "odd" situations, Travis said.

He described Seattle's decision to hike its minimum wage to $15 per hour as "totally wrong" and an example of one that's "far too high." The city's decision to count franchisees as bigger employers rather than small businesses—thus forcing them to rise to $15 sooner—has drawn considerable anger from the franchise community. (The company's Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain operates there, though not its namesake doughnut brand.)

While Travis doubts the federal minimum wage will jump to $10.10 from the current $7.25 as President Barack Obama and many lawmakers would like, he says Dunkin Brands' franchisees understand the rate will go up—just as it's done many times before.

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Still, he called a jump above $9 or $10 in any state "ridiculous in the current economic state of the country."

Travis' comments follow those of other fellow fast food heavyweights. Last month, Subway's CEO recommended indexing federal minimum wage increases to inflation, while the CEO of CKE Restaurants said that minimum wage hikes were forcing some franchisees to shutter locations after their leases expired.

—By CNBC's Katie Little.