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Sunday, September 13, 2015
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, with Vice President Joe Biden to his right, announces Thursday that he plans to push for an increase in pay for all minimum wage employees to $15. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS / NYS GOVERNOR'S OFFICE)

By +Scott Leffler

Having pushed through a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers, to be phased in over the next six years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now looking to increase the minimum hourly wage for all other workers in New York State.

A supporter holds a sign at a rally for an increase in the New York State
minimum wage on Thursday. Not all support the wage hike, though. 
Cuomo made the announcement at a New York City rally on Thursday, the same day the fast food worker increase was formally approved by the governor's office.

Making the announcement with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, Cuomo said, "a minimum wage of $8.75 is not a minimum wage in the state of New York at all. ... FDR said, when he started the minimum wage, that that minimum wage is, I quote: 'A living wage, I mean more than a fair subsistence; I mean the wages of a decent living.' That is the definition of a minimum wage."

"It’s simple math. You can’t support a family on $18,000 a year in New York State not to mention having a decent living," he continued. "So Mr. Vice President, today I announce that I will propose to the New York State legislature not just $15 for fast food workers, because a fast food worker deserves $15 an hour, construction workers deserve $15 an hour and home healthcare aides deserve $15 an hour and taxi cab drivers deserve $15 an hour and every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour as a minimum wage and we are not going to stop until we get it done."

At the announcement, Biden announced support for the Cuomo plan. The Obama administration has announced plans to increase the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Like the fast food increase — which is set to and increase a dollar per year each Dec. 31 until 2020, when it will increase 75 cents to $14.50 before making the final hike to $15 on July 1, 2021 — the Democrat is proposing stepped increases from the current $8.75 to the eventual $15.

Cuomo's proposal was immediately met with support from some and opposition from others.

While the conservative "Unshackle Upstate" called the plan "a huge step backwards for the Upstate economy," the Retail Council of New York State said it sees "value in the Governor's proposal and look forward to continuing our dialogue with him on this issue."

In a statement released by Unshackle Upstate, the organization said, "The call for a statewide $15 minimum wage is another example of Albany’s failure to understand a basic reality about New York State – policies that might work in Manhattan destroy jobs Upstate."

The Retail Council, while acknowledging their own concern for "the effect of a $15-an-hour threshold on the industry's ability to create and provide jobs," nonetheless said Cuomo's proposal "looks to be a longer-term extrapolation of the proposals we have supported in the past."

Unshackle Upstate had previously opposed the fast food wage hike, while the Retail Council had supported it.

Cuomo said he simply disagrees with Unshackle Upstate's view of the future.

"We have heard and we reject the political argument that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs – we believe the exact opposite. We believe that raising the minimum wage is going to spur the economy, because the families that get that money are going to spend that money," he said. "Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will bring fairness to 2.2 million working New Yorkers. $15 an hour will be the highest statewide rate in the nation and will herald a new economic contract with America, and it’s about time."

While New York would be the first state to do so, it would not be the first place in the country to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Left Coast cities of Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, Calif., as well as Seattle, Wash. have approved phased-in increases that eventually will take their minimum wage to $15 an hour.

While the fast food hike had significant opposition, Cuomo used a "wage board" to circumvent the typical legislative process. Thursday, though, Cuomo didn't mention the wage board in regards to the full minimum wage hike, but rather said he was proposing it to the New York State Legislature.

The Democratic-led Assembly may support the plan but Republicans in the Senate, who held a hearing the same day as Cuomo's announcement to look into the legality of the wage board it self, have long opposed any significant increase in the raising the minimum wage, citing the same thought process as Unshackle Upstate: It will kill jobs.

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1 comment:

  1. Businesses will now have to give everyone a raise if this is passed. If I have a skilled trade and I'm now making, let's say $27 / hour, if a new hire will make $15, I will be demanding that with my schooling , skills and abilities, I will be looking for a raise.


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