Politico: The minimum wage fight that will define the decade

After inflation rocketed upward last year, those pushing for higher minimum wages see a new opening to gain ground on raising worker pay.

An intraparty fight has broken out in New York over the state’s minimum wage laws and how to get more money to the lowest-paid workers without hurting businesses, portending similar skirmishes across the country in the coming years.

The debate is rekindling divisions among Democrats in Albany, pitting liberal lawmakers against their more centrist colleagues and highlighting fissures that have emerged in Democratic strongholds elsewhere, particularly in areas with some of the country’s highest costs of living.

Moderate Gov. Kathy Hochul — still bruised by an unflattering election performance and losing a judicial standoff with lawmakers — this year proposed pegging the state’s minimum wage to inflation, while capping year-over-year increases to 3 percent or less. The state already requires a minimum wage of $15 per hour in and around New York City and $14.20 upstate.

The Legislature last week symbolically rejected Hochul’s plan for not going far enough, raising the stakes of negotiations over the state budget due by April.

“In a year like last year, 3 percent would have been nonsense,” state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), a progressive who chairs the Labor Committee, said in an interview. “Minimum wage earners deserve to be able to afford to exist and to live and to thrive.”

New York isn’t an outlier in the wage debate.

A decade after the so-called Fight for $15 campaign took root and won minimum wage hikes in some of the biggest states, liberal lawmakers and progressive activists are now aiming higher: $20 per hour or more.

California, Washington state and the District of Columbia have already edged beyond the $15 threshold, as of January. And activists are launching lobbying campaigns in more statehouses, hoping to push the minimum wage as high as $22 per hour in coming years. Others are pushing to index state minimum wages to inflation.

Read the full article at Politico.

Related to

The Latest News

All news