February 24, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo, Labor Leaders Applaud Department of Labor Action to Raise Minimum Wage For Tipped Workers

TOP Governor Cuomo, Labor Leaders Applaud...

Launch Campaign in Support of Governor’s Proposal to Raise Minimum Wage

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today applauded the State Department of Labor for its action to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to be among the highest in the nation. The Department convened a Wage Board at the Governor’s direction in 2014 to review and recommend changes to regulations for food service workers and service employees, and today, Acting Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino announced the acceptance of a number of those recommendations, including the highest ever wage for tipped workers in New York.

“New York has become a state of opportunity in the past four years – but we must do more to ensure that opportunity is available to all workers, and the State Department of Labor’s decision to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers is an important step toward making that happen,” Governor Cuomo said. “No one who works a full time job should be forced to live in poverty, and that is why we must also increase the State’s minimum wage, not just for tipped workers but for all hard-working New Yorkers and we must do it this year.”

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Tipped workers are paid a required base rate. Their tips added to that base pay must equal or exceed the minimum wage. The Department of Labor accepted the following recommendations from the Wage Board: 
1. Uniform tip amounts and criteria for all tipped workers in the hospitality industry, so that the same rates apply to food service workers, service employees and service employees in resort hotels.
2. Increase the tipped cash wage amounts from their current rates of $4.90, $5.00 and $5.65, which have not increased since 2011, to $7.50 per hour, effective December 31, 2015. 
3. If the legislature enacts a separate minimum wage rate for New York City, then the cash wage for such workers must be increased by one dollar, effective on the date that such separate minimum wage rate for New York City takes effect.
4. A review of whether the system of cash wages and tip credits should be eliminated.

There are approximately 229,000 tipped workers in New York State today – 70 percent of whom are women, according to the National Employment Law Project. Tipped workers are twice as likely as other employees to experience poverty in New York State. Restaurant servers (waiters and waitresses) make up more than half of tipped workers who do live in poverty, and they experience poverty rates that are triple the poverty rates for other workers. 

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In addition to today’s announcement from the Department of Labor regarding the minimum wage for tipped workers, labor leaders from representing a variety of industries announced their support for the Governor’s aggressive and feasible proposal to increase the standard minimum wage for non-tipped workers to a rate of $10.50 statewide and $11.50 in New York City (in order to account for the City’s higher cost of living) by December 31, 2016.

Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ, said, “Today’s announcement is a critical step forward for service workers in New York who are struggling to make ends meet on the current minimum wage. Raising the tipped minimum wage will help workers and their families and it will strengthen our communities and our economy. This, coupled with increasing the New York State and New York City minimum wage, is an important step in the right direction. We look forward to campaigning with the governor and legislature to do just that and to support low-wage workers across our city, our state and our country as they fight for family-sustaining wages and dignity at work.”

George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said, "Healthcare workers are proud to stand with Governor Cuomo as he fights to raise standards for the lowest wage New Yorkers. It is exactly this kind of bold progressive leadership that the present moment demands."

Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, said, “This is smart public policy that is long overdue. Raising the tipped workers sub-minimum wage has the potential to greatly improve the lives of thousands of hardworking New Yorkers who will no longer be disadvantaged while trying to provide a better life for themselves and their families. Additionally, the increase in the overall minimum wage as proposed in the Executive Budget is an important step toward addressing poverty and income inequality.”

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said, “Too many people go to work each day and still struggle to survive on the wages they earn. Governor Cuomo's initiative is an important step in helping to change that. We will continue to work with the Governor and others to ensure that work is respected and workers earn decent livings for themselves and their families.”

The New York State minimum wage is currently $8.75 per hour. In 2013, Governor Cuomo signed a law to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 by December 31, 2015. 

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Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office:  212.681.4640

Albany Press Office:  518.474.8418