More Than 200 Investigators From Multiple State Agencies Team Up to Enforce New Minimum Wage
New Worker Protection Web Tool Launched to Determine the Minimum Wage in Your Area: ny.gov/MyWage
Workers Who Have Not Received Proper Pay Are Urged to Call the Minimum Wage Hotline at 1-888-4-NYSDOL
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Public Awareness Campaign Running Statewide to Inform New Yorkers About the Wage Increase
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of a 200-member multi-agency Minimum Wage Enforcement and Outreach Unit charged with ensuring that all minimum wage workers are paid the proper rate. The Enforcement and Outreach Unit, a first-of-its-kind in the nation, will also help businesses understand their responsibilities and workers understand their rights under the new wage regulations.
Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo signed landmark legislation making New York the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage. On December 31, 2016, the first benchmark of the phase-in schedule for the minimum wage increase went into effect.
VIDEO of the announcement is available on YouTube here and in and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks are available here.
PHOTOS of the announcement are available of the Governor’s Flikr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Good afternoon. It’s my pleasure to be here today. I’m joined to my left with the Commissioner of Labor, Roberta Reardon; to my right, the General Counsel to the State of New York Alphonso David.
The topic today is the minimum wage and it couldn’t be more appropriate. There’s been a lot of talk over the past year or so of the economic anxiety that people feel, the economic injustice, and it’s true. In terms of real wages, people have been going backwards in this society. Working men and women have been going backwards. The middle class has been going backwards. If you have been making the minimum wage, you have been stagnant in the minimum wage for many years, and if you’re stagnant, you’re actually going backwards, right? Because the cost of living is going up and you’re staying at the exact same place. So, when they talk about the economic anxiety and the anger and the frustration, it’s real because people are not keeping pace in this economy. And the income and equality is getting worse than ever. There’s a polarization of wealth. The rich are getting richer and the middle class and the working families are falling further and further behind. So what do you do about it? Well, you need a multi-prong strategy. You have to get jobs that pay the middle class, retrain for middle class workers. We’re getting advanced manufacturing jobs back in the state that pay a higher wage. And you have to raise the people on the bottom and the best way to raise the people on the bottom is by raising the minimum wage.
There are a lot of myths about minimum wage workers. They common myth is, “Well a minimum wage worker, that’s just a young person who is working in a hamburger place and it’s their first job.” That’s actually not true. Over 50 percent of people making minimum wage are over 35 years old – 40 percent of them are either married or have a child. There are 730,000 people in the State of New York who are making a minimum wage and just to put it into perspective, if you are a minimum wage earner and you have two children who you are supporting, you are below the poverty line. How can you have a minimum wage that the state sets, when you know if a person who has two children they are below the poverty line, which means that you then subsidize them with government programs – food stamps, AFDC, etcetera – so really it’s a government subsidy for a private sector corporation, which is entirely absurd. So, we passed a law last year that raises the minimum wage to $15. It is phased in over a period of time. This December 31, the first phase-in went into effect. It is at different levels across the state, so it’s a little complicated to follow and we want to make sure that everyone knows what it is. In New York City, if you are a ‘large business’ large being defined as being 11 employees or more, the minimum wage went to $11. If you are a small business – small defined as 10 employees or less - $10.50. If you’re a business located on Long Island or Westchester the minimum wage goes to $10. If you are in the remainder of the state, it goes to $9.70.
Now understand the current minimum wage is $9, so it would be $18,000 a year, basically. When it goes to $15, fully phased-in that will be an income of $30,000 a year. So, it’s a dramatic difference for a family. We have a 1-800 number for people who are confused, be that employees or employers, 1-888-4-NYSDOL, standing for the Department of Labor. We are also announcing today, we have a task force of investigators about 200 that will be going out across the state and their purpose is to both inform and enforce. A lot of workers don’t know that they just got a raise and they need to know this because they need to make sure it is in their pay check. A lot of employers don’t know that the minimum wage went up and they need to know it also. So, these 200 investigators will be informing people and making sure the law is followed through.
One thing I want to make clear, this is not a voluntary effort. It’s not that we are recommending a nice idea that businesses raise the wage. This is the law, and if a business does not follow the law, they can be subject to significant monetary penalties and they can also be subject to criminal penalties if it is egregious. So, we have approximately 200 investigators. To businesses, I say, know the facts and I say, follow the law, and to employees I say, know your rights. This can chance people’s lives for the better because this is a significant increase and it is long overdue. So, we want to make sure it is enacted and it is enacted quickly and its enacted fairly.