Nassau County Raises Hourly Wage to Over $15; Advocates Say Workers in Other Counties Need Same
August 4, 2015
by Andrea Sears
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Workers for Nassau County are getting a small pay raise for a big reason.
On Friday, the county announced its minimum pay for county workers and contractors will increase to $15.54 per hour. At only four cents, it isn’t a big raise – but it’s just enough to keep pace with inflation.
Anita Halasz, executive director of Long Island Jobs with Justice, says the raise is significant. Unlike minimum wage laws in most other counties or New York state, the Nassau County living wage goes up with the rising cost of living.
“It does create a model of what actual wage increases should look like,” she says. “And it sets a floor wage that is actually a great model of the ways in which employers should be paying their workers.”
County officials say the new living wage makes Nassau County a national leader. The new minimum applies to jobs that do not include health care benefits. The minimum for employees who receive benefits is almost $2.00 less per hour.
Compared to other areas of the state, Nassau County is a particularly expensive place to live, but advocates for low-wage workers say they’ve been losing ground across the country for years.
Based on decades of rising living costs and increased productivity, Halasz says her group estimates the national minimum wage should be around $22 per hour for everyone.
“Fifteen dollars is not enough. That’s really the baseline of it,” she says. “Fifteen dollars is not enough no matter where you are, regardless of whether you’re in Buffalo, New York City or Long Island.”
Nassau County’s living wage law went into effect in 2007, and the hourly wage is increased every year on Aug. 1.
PHOTO: Workers on Long Island and across the country have been rallying to make the minimum wage a living wage, which they say means $15 an hour. Photo courtesy of Long Island Jobs with Justice.
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