Announcement Builds Momentum for Governor’s Proposal for Statewide, All-Industry $15 Minimum Wage
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today joined Mayor Lovely Warren to announce that the city of Rochester 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. At least 116 city employees would 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.
“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,” said Governor Cuomo. “Raising the minimum wage is about fairness and justice. It’s about giving hard-working people an opportunity to support themselves and their families. I’m proud to be leading by example alongside Mayor Warren and Council President Scott as we build momentum across the state for a policy that will change lives, and I urge the state legislature to help us fight for fair pay for all workers.”
Mayor Lovely A. Warren said: "I thank and commend Governor Cuomo for championing a living wage for New York’s workers. I have strongly supported the ‘Fight for $15’ movement and, to be consistent, I believe I cannot advocate for one thing in the private sector without applying that same standard at City Hall. City employees should earn a wage that enables them to provide for their families' needs. We cannot apply a standard to others and then exempt ourselves, so I intend to work with City Council to fully implement a universal $15 per hour minimum wage for all City workers by 2021."
City Council President Loretta Scott:“This minimum wage increase for Rochester’s public sector employees is a tremendous step forward for our community. Hard-working people throughout Rochester – someone’s brother or sister, mother or father – are struggling to put food on the table, even while working multiple jobs. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour not only ends this cycle of poverty, it ensures individuals are able to turn around and spend more of their hard-earned money at local business, growing our economy. I am proud that Rochester is joining Governor Cuomo by raising the wage for public sector employees, but there is still more to do – and that’s why the state legislature must raise the wage for all minimum wage workers. I stand with Governor Cuomo in the fight for $15, and urge lawmakers to do the same.”
Dan Maloney, President of the Rochester and Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation and President of the United Auto Workers Local 1097, said: “Together we stand united in the fight for a $15 minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage for millions of hard-working men and women grants them the ability to survive without government assistance and to lead a decent living, where they would not have to worry about deciding whether to pay for housing, food, or other necessities. We thank Governor Cuomo for supporting these hard-working people, and call on every state legislator to join us in the fight for fair pay.”
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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