New York Leading the Way on $15

The following statement on the approval of a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers in New York and on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to make New York the first state with a $15 minimum wage can be attributed to Paul Sonn, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project.

“New York State’s approval of a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers shows that when workers join together, they can create change that reverberates across the country. Many thought the 200 fast-food workers who walked off their jobs three years ago calling for $15 and a union had no chance, but their demands have galvanized cities, states, and even private employers like Amalgamated, Aetna and, this week, Nationwide, to raise pay to at least $15. Consensus among lawmakers, companies and workers across industries is building that $15 is the minimum Americans everywhere need to support their families.

“With his bold action to expand $15 beyond the fast-food industry to all workers across the state, Governor Cuomo today sets a standard for how leaders across America should respond to the ongoing wage crisis that is leaving millions of working families behind, even as the economy continues to recover and corporate profits and CEO compensation soar.  As NELP documented just last week in our recent report on occupational wage declines, real wage rates have declined across all jobs over the past five years, but workers who are paid the least have been hurt the most.  Governor Cuomo is taking an important step to address these wage declines for New Yorkers.  We call on the state legislature to move quickly and affirmatively in answering his call.  And we urge leaders across the nation to follow suit.

“The governor’s historic campaign will realign pay with living costs by making New York the first state with a $15 minimum wage.  Up to 3 million New Yorkers— 37% of the workforce— could benefit. They span every demographic:  half are over age 35, 58% live outside New York City, most are women, and half are black, Latino or Asian-American.  Other leaders nationally will feel pressure to rise to Cuomo’s bold lead.”

A fact sheet by NELP and the Fiscal Policy Institute on the effects of the governor’s proposal is here.

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