Governor Cuomo: “This is not the ending; it is just the beginning because we will not stop until we reach true economic justice and we raise the minimum wage for every worker in every job in this state.”
This afternoon, Governor Cuomo delivered remarks at a rally in New York City following the vote by the Fast Food Wage Board to recommend increasing the minimum wage for fast-food workers in New York State. More information about the vote is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is included below:
Good afternoon. What a great, great day. This is one of the really great days of my administration. First, to Mary Kay Henry and Hector Figueroa and SEIU that was the driving force that got this organized, let’s give them a big shout-out. To Mario Cilento and the AFL-CIO, 1199, Kevin Finnegan, let’s hear a round of applause, Vinny Alvarez of the Central Labor Council, our great Comptroller Scott Stringer who’s doing a great job, my brothers and sisters who are here from the Assembly and the Senate and all our brother and sisters in the labor movements and the community organizations. To Citizen Action, New York Communities for Change, let’s give them a round of applause. To your and my attorney general, who’s doing a great job, I now gave him a second job a couple of weeks ago to be a special prosecutor in cases where police kill unarmed civilians so we know we have an unbiased voice. Let’s give a round of applause to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Just to be clear, I gave the Attorney General a second job, not a second salary, so give him another round of applause. And to Public Advocate Tish James, who just joined us, let’s give Tish a round of applause.
My friends, I’ll tell you why I’m excited today; because this is not really about wage boards and hearings and hearing officials. This is about something more important and more fundamental and profound. This is really about who we are as New Yorkers and what we believe. And what we believe in New York is that there should be opportunity for all and there is fundamental fairness for all and there is justice for all. That’s what the Statue of Liberty says. That’s what we believe, that’s what brought generations to this state, to stand up to those principles.
And the truth is, those principles are in jeopardy because there is a lot of injustice. And what you did and what where doing is we’re standing up to fight that injustice and say, “We’re not going to take it anymore, and the state of New York is going to lead the way.” It is an injustice when you have a growing income inequality where fewer and fewer Americans are becoming richer and richer and more and more Americans working harder and getting left behind. It is an injustice when working families in this country have actually gone backwards over the past ten years when you add in inflation. It is a shame that in this nation today with all our progress, you still have one out of five children in poverty that is a shame. It is repugnant to the concept of a minimum wage to say that this $9 wage is what we had in mind.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the minimum wage, and he said it is a wage that doesn’t just allow you to subsist, but to live a decent life. You cannot live and support a family on $18,000 per year in the state of New York, period. That’s why we have to raise the minimum wage.
The Labor Commissioner will review the work of the Wage Board but I think there is no doubt we are headed in the right direction, and what Mary Kay Henry said is exactly right. This is going to help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. But this is going to do something else because when New York acts, the rest of the states follow. That is the New York way.
We’ve always been different; we’ve always been first; we’ve always been the most progressive. And this statement today is going to radiate all across the country, and SEIU and the community organizations can go all across the country and say, “If New York can do it, why can’t you do it?” and if it’s right in New York, it’s right in California and it’s right in Michigan and it’s right in Florida.
New York has led the way before. Three years ago, New York stood up and said it’s wrong to discriminate and it’s wrong to discriminate based on who loves who and the sex of people who love each other and we stood up and we passed marriage equality. And they heard it nationwide. We stood up and we said we have to take on the insanity of this gun violence that is killing young people in the streets and we passed sensible gun control in this state and it resonated all across this nation. We stood up and said you can create jobs, and we’ve created 600,000 jobs in New York, and you can still be fair to workers and bring along workers with you in that progress.
This is what New York has done, and SEIU and everyone here today has to pledge to do the same thing here. For us in this state, this is not the ending; it is just the beginning because we will not stop until we reach true economic justice and we raise the minimum wage for every worker in every job in this state. Because the New York way is we believe the greatest success is shared success, and the greatest feast has the most number of people at the table. That’s what we’re doing today, that’s the crusade we’re on, we’ll make it a reality in New York and they’ll hear us all across this nation. Thank SEIU, thank Mary Kay Henry, thank Hector Figueroa, HTC, 1199, 32BJ, Communities for Change. Go get ‘em!
TV-quality (h264, mp4) format is available here.