Announcement Builds Momentum for Governor’s Proposal for Statewide, All-Industry $15 Minimum Wage
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today joined Mayor Byron Brown to announce that the city of Buffalo is raising the minimum wage for public sector workers to $15 per hour. The action will take effect at the beginning of the city’s next fiscal year and then follow the phased schedule of the Governor’s proposal for a statewide, all-industry $15 minimum wage by 2021. A total of 479 city employees will be directly benefitted by this increase.
This announcement continues to build momentum for a $15 minimum wage in New York, coming on the heels of the Governor’s action last week to increase the wage for state employees to $15 per hour on the same schedule. Earlier today, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren also announced that her city is raising the minimum wage for public sector workers to $15 per hour.
“A full-time worker who earns the minimum wage today is still left very far from a decent living – that’s not right, and it’s time that changed. Raising the minimum wage is about fairness and justice. It’s about giving hard-working people an opportunity to support themselves and their families,” said Governor Cuomo. “Today, the mayors of both Buffalo and Rochester stepped up to lead by example in the fight for fair pay. We are building momentum across the state for a policy that will change lives, and I urge the State Legislature to join us in raising the minimum wage for all workers.”
Mayor Byron Brown said: “Our city and state employees add to the momentum that’s currently underway in Buffalo, where we’re experiencing significant economic development and job growth. Raising the minimum wage is a smart, common-sense move that will further improve lives and strengthen our economy. Throughout my career, I’ve fought hard for working families to ensure that everyone has the chance to prosper, most recently as the chair of Governor Cuomo’s fast food wage board that recommended a boost in the minimum wage for fast food workers. Today I’m pleased to announce that the City of Buffalo is not only joining Governor Cuomo’s push for a $15 minimum wage but we’re leading by example by increasing the wage to $15 per hour for approximately 479 City of Buffalo employees.”
Senator Tim Kennedy said: “Raising the minimum wage is a crucial way to help address income inequality and the ever-widening gap between blue-collar workers and the very rich. For far too long, the minimum wage has remained stagnant, making it nearly impossible to raise a family without government assistance, and it’s time we made a change – it is time for a true living wage. I applaud Mayor Brown for his move to raise the wage for city employees, and I stand with Governor Cuomo in calling on New York’s lawmakers to act on behalf of all hardworking New Yorkers who deserve their share of the American Dream."
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said: “We need to pass the fifteen dollar wage to help lift thousands of New Yorkers out of poverty. Too many families are struggling to get by and they are demanding a real living wage. As the author of the City of Buffalo’s living wage ordinance, I know this issue very well. It’s time that we address income inequality and pay all workers a decent living wage. I thank the Governor for using his platform to help raise the wage in New York State.”
Reverend Darius Pridgen, President of the Buffalo Common Council, said: “I commend the Governor on his bold stance to continue to improve the lives of New York’s workers and families. I am in support of the Governor's proposal that would gradually phase in a $15.00 minimum wage for city employees.”
Governor Cuomo has proposed a phased-in schedule for the $15 minimum wage increase. For all counties outside of New York City, that proposed schedule is below. Buffalo’s wage increase for city workers will follow this schedule for counties outside of New York City, with the one exception of the phase one increase to $9.75 (which will take effect at the start of the city’s next fiscal year, 07/01/2016).
Governor Cuomo’s proposal is also a dramatic step toward restoring purchasing power to minimum wage workers. In terms of real buying power, the minimum wage last peaked in 1970 at $1.85 per hour. If the minimum wage had continued to grow at the national rate of inflation – instead of diminishing dramatically over most of the last 45 years – it would be similar to the Governor’s current proposal at full implementation. A schedule showing that comparison during the years covered in the Governor’s proposal is below:
Date of Increase Under Governor's Proposal (Outside of NYC)
1970 Minimum Wage in Current Dollars
New York has increased the minimum wage eight times since 1991. In six of those cases, there has been an increase in employment following the increase in the minimum wage.
In total, more than 2.3 million New Yorkers (roughly 1,435,500 workers living outside of New York City and 927,400 living within New York City) will be directly benefitted by the Governor’s proposal to increase the minimum wage for workers in all industries to $15 per hour.
Building on Past Progress
Governor Cuomo has consistently fought to increase the minimum wage in New York State. In 2013, the Governor signed legislation that raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to its current level of $8.75. That legislation included another incremental increase to $9.00 that will take effect by the end of 2015. Additionally, the State Department of Labor empaneled a wage board last July focusing on tipped workers. The Governor’s administration ultimately accepted that wage board’s recommendations, setting the stage for an increase in wages for tipped workers from $4.90, $5.00 and $5.65 to $7.50 per hour on December 31, 2015.
Governor Cuomo also recently directed the Department of Labor to empanel a wage board to investigate and make recommendations on an increase in the minimum wage in the fast food industry. Earlier this year, then-Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino accepted those recommendations and signed the official order setting in motion the phased increase toward $15 per hour. An estimated 200,000 fast food workers are expected to benefit from this increase.
More information is available at www.ny.gov/fightforfairpay.
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