Rally Held at Headquarters of New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council as Wage Board is Scheduled to Hold Third Meeting on Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Jon Bon Jovi and labor leaders from across New York have joined the Fight for Fair Pay campaign, which is supporting the Governor’s push to raise the minimum wage. In May, Governor Cuomo instructed the State Department of Labor to launch a Wage Board to investigate and make recommendations on an increase in the minimum wage in the fast food industry. The Wage Board is expected to make recommendations for a possible increase by July; those recommendations do not require legislative approval in order to become enacted. TV-quality video of today's rally is available for download here.
"When you run the numbers, the minimum wage doesn't work. Fast food employees are primary wage earners for their family, and because the minimum wage is still below poverty, they must then come to government for public assistance and food stamps," Governor Cuomo said. "The State of New York pays $700 million to subsidize those paychecks. We want a wage that is right and that is fair. Let the employers pay a wage so their workers can eat and pay housing and live decently – it is that simple. Pay people what they deserve. That is our fight, that is what this is all about, and I urge the Wage Board to do the right thing and make this a reality."
Jon Bon Jovi said, "Raising the wage is about fairness and giving hardworking New Yorkers more than a shot at making ends meet. In 2009, we wrote the song 'Work For The Working Man' to give a voice to the struggling American worker – and it's no coincidence that Governor Cuomo uses it frequently at events. He is making sure that New York leads the nation to fight for fair pay and provide better opportunity for all. The Governor is a man that works for the working man in everything he does, and I thank him for his leadership to pay employees a living wage."
The Governor and Jon Bon Jovi were joined at today’s rally, held at the headquarters of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, by labor leaders from across the state.
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said, “This state enjoys the greatest prosperity when all of our residents can afford to support themselves and their families. But with the current minimum wage in New York, too many of our low wage earners are forced to depend on state assistance to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage for fast food workers offers the best approach to correcting income disparity in their industry, generating economic growth and making more New Yorkers financially independent. This is an historic step forward for New York’s future and I am proud to support the Governor’s action.”
"The Governor is a man that works for the working man in everything he does, and I thank him for his leadership to pay employees a living wage."
President of the Hotel Trade Council Peter Ward said, “Every day more and more citizens join the fight to support a fairer minimum wage. It is clear that the minimum wage is not working for tens of thousands of hardworking men and women in industries like the fast food industry. Minimum wage is supposed to allow those who work full time to earn a decent living and provide for their families, and that’s why the Governor’s Wage Board is so important – they have a real chance to make the minimum wage work.”
Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbera said, “Raising the minimum wage is not only about giving hard workers the compensation they deserve – it is about lifting them out of poverty and helping them to provide a sustainable future for themselves and their families. The Governor’s decision to launch a wage board focused on the fast food industry was a bold move, and they have a real chance to end an economic injustice in New York today – while also setting an example for others around the nation to follow.”
Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said, "As the nation's largest municipal labor movement, cities around the country look to New York City to set the tone for helping to get workers the wages and benefits they earn and deserve. Now is the time to raise wages for all of our hardworking men and women."
NYS Building & Construction Trades Council President James Cahill said, “The fight for a fairer minimum wage is an issue that all New Yorkers can get behind. Being employed at minimum wage should provide workers with a sense of peace which comes with being able to provide for themselves and their families. For far too long, fast food employees and their standards of living have been subsidized by government assistance. It is time for these employees to earn a fair wage.”
CSEA President Danny Donohue said, “An economy that works for all makes our democracy more vibrant and sustainable. When we fight against income inequality, we also fight for fairness and justice for all families.”
Shirley Aldebol, Vice President, 32BJ SEIU, said, “Raising the minimum wage to a level which allows workers to support themselves and their families is a major issue of economic equality. For too long the minimum wage earned by those who work full time has failed in this regard. Thousands of hard working men and women struggle to provide for themselves and their families in the fast food industry and as a result must turn to government assistance to make up the difference. The Governor is absolutely right – it is time for fast food corporations to pay a fairer minimum wage.”
Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said, "It's wrong and unacceptable that working in 2015 can still keep you in poverty! From fast-food to retail and beyond, New York's low-wage workers drive our economy. We would be lost without them. All low-wage workers deserve more."
Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress at CUNY said, “Increasing the minimum wage for fast-food workers would be a strong step in the right direction for some of New York’s hardest working citizens. It would provide these workers with the financial independence they need to provide a full meal for their families or pay that month’s rent without relying on government support. The members of the Wage Board have the opportunity help hard-working families across our state, and we are proud to stand with the Governor in calling for a change in the minimum wage.”
CSEA Metropolitan Region President Lester Crockett said, “If workers can’t earn the salaries they need to survive, there is no way we can expect our local economies to thrive.”
Chris Erikson, Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 3 said, "We must raise the minimum wage for the thousands of New Yorkers who work in the fast food industry. Full-time employees should be able to provide for themselves and their families without a mandatory second job or government assistanceI commend the Governor for his leadership and I ask the Wage Board to do the same.”
Gregory Floyd, President, Teamsters Local 237, said, “We are excited to join the Governor's fight for fair pay because New Yorkers who work full time should be able to life with dignity, free from government assistance and with a bright future ahead. Governor Cuomo is standing up for the working man and woman by calling for higher standards for fast food workers – so that thousands of New Yorkers can receive the compensation they deserve.”
Jill Furillo, Executive Director, NYS Nurses Association, said, "Raising the wage for fast food workers will ensure that employees won't have to struggle to make ends meet or provide their families with the basic necessities. The time is now to pay them what they deserve. I thank the Governor for his leadership in advocating for these hard workers, and I encourage all New Yorkers to join us in calling for fair pay in the fast food industry.”
Michael McGuire, Political Director, Mason Tenders District Council, said, “Governor Cuomo has taken a bold stand in the fight for fair pay, and we are proud to stand with him today. The fight for fair pay is about delivering on the American promise – that our friends and neighbors who work full-time should be able to support their family with dignity and respect, and should be able to plan and grow their future.”
Stephen McIinnis, President, NYC District Council of Carpenters, said, "The men and women working in our fast food industry warrant better than to struggle feeding their families. Raising the minimum wage is a necessary step to giving these hard workers the pay they deserve.”
Terrence Moore, Business Manager, Metallic Lathers & Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46, said, “Raising the minimum wage for fast food workers would mean greater financial independence for tens of thousands of New Yorkers. An increase in wage means more food on the table at home, a greater ability to pay one’s own rent, and less reliance on public assistance overall. Most important, this would be an increase in the quality of life for those who need it most. The Governor was right to launch this Wage Board, and we urge the members to stand up for fast food workers in the fight for fair pay.”
Ed Severino, Business Manager, LIUNA Local 78, said, “Increasing the minimum wage for fast-food workers would be a strong step in the right direction for some of New York’s hardest working citizens. It would provide these workers with the financial independence they need to provide a full meal for their families or pay that month’s rent without relying on government support. The members of the Wage Board have the opportunity help hard-working families across our state, and we are proud to stand with the Governor in calling for a change in the minimum wage.”
Under New York State law, a Wage Board can suggest changes to the minimum wage in a specific industry or job classification if it finds that wages are insufficient to provide for the life and health of workers within that industry or classification. Despite being a well-established and thriving multi-billion dollar industry, the fast food sector employs tens of thousands of minimum wage workers in New York State – the vast majority of which are women, primary breadwinners for their households, and recipients of welfare or other forms of public assistance.
More information about the Fast Food Wage Board, including meeting documents and videos of the meetings after they occur, is available at www.labor.ny.gov/fastfoodwageboard.
All testimony must be received by the Wage Board by June 26, 2015. All testimony given, oral or written, will be considered by the Wage Board. Written testimony is highly encouraged. Written testimony may be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to:
New York State Department of Labor
ATTN: Wage Board
Bldg 12, Room 586
Harriman State Office Campus
Albany, NY 12240
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. Continuing to build on that progress, the Governor launched the “Fight for Fair Pay” campaign earlier this year to support his proposal (originally announced as part of his 2015 Opportunity Agenda) to further increase the minimum wage in New York State. That proposal would bring the minimum wage to $10.50 statewide and $11.50 in New York City where the cost of living is higher.
This is also the second time that the State Department of Labor has empaneled a Wage Board under Governor Cuomo. In July 2014, the Governor directed the Department to convene a Wage Board to review and recommend any changes to the relevant regulations for food service workers and service employees (tipped workers) in New York State. As a result of that Wage Board, the tipped cash wage amounts for tipped workers will increase from their current rates of $4.90, $5.00 and $5.65 – rates which have not increased since 2011 – to $7.50 per hour on December 31, 2015. More information on the recommendations that the Department of Labor accepted from that Wage Board to benefit tipped workers can be found here.