Gov. Cuomo’s bid to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all entry-level workers would cost state and local governments – as well as publicly funded nonprofit groups – hundreds of millions of dollars year, a fiscal watchdog said.
Cuomo announced the idea Thursday at a labor rally with Vice President Joe Biden.
That’s a hike of more than 70% over the current hourly minimum of $8.75 – rising to in the new year – and would be the highest statewide rate in the nation. In New York City, where prices are about 22 percent higher than the national average, the purchasing power of the minimum wage is just $7.15 an hour. It will apply to some 200,000 employees at large chain restaurants. It is important to state that this would the first time the state would set the minimum wage so high. The Obama administration has announced plans to increase the federal minimum wage to an hour.
Cuomo acknowledged SEIU’s support for raising the minimum wage in his speech last week, saying, “We would not be here today without [SEIU President] Mary Kay Henry, SEIU and their leadership”.
“Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour”, the governor said. Or in Seattle or Los Angeles, two other cities that are boosting their minimum wages to $15 an hour.
So while it’s hard to make ends meet on a minimum wage job, it goes a lot further in the Buffalo Niagara region than it does downstate.
“And we want to raise the minimum wage to $15”.
Cuomo’s, speaking to reporters, says the plan would be phased in over several years, by 2018 in New York City and 2021 upstate, and to make it easier for businesses to adjust and perhaps more palatable for republicans in the legislature. In New York City, a minimum wage worker earns 60 percent less than the median; in Buffalo it’s 48 percent lower.
Although state lawmakers will not return to Albany until January, the ad – running in the city and key markets upstate – is intended to help “set the agenda” for the 2016 elections, when control of the state Senate will be decided, said a Cuomo campaign source.
The increase was recommended by the state Wage Board and does not need legislative approval.
It is not known what other steps SEIU will take to back the statewide $15 campaign; Fight for $15 has turned out grass-roots workers and supporters to rally in support of the wage board increase.
A new report from the website StreetEasy found not a single neighborhood where a minimum-wage worker could afford the median private-sector rent available on the market. “With $15 an hour, I’d say that’s all out of the window, and a lot of businesses are going to have to shut down just because their models are not conducive to paying laborers $15 an hour”.