The governor first announced that the state Department of Labor has officially approved the recommendation to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour. But then he went a step further, saying that if fast-food workers deserve a raise, then so do construction workers, home health-care aides and taxi cab drivers.
“Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour as a minimum wage,” Cuomo said, “and we’re not going to stop until we get it done.”
Cuomo will ask the Legislature to pass a bill increasing the wage from the current $8.75 an hour, phasing it in over three years in New York City and six years for the rest of the state, the same schedule as the raise for fast-food workers.
Los Angeles and some other cities already have raised their minimum wage to $15, but if state lawmakers act on Cuomo’s proposal it would make New York’s the highest statewide minimum in the nation. Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, said that will send a clear message to the governors of every other state.
“New York is going to challenge the rest of the nation to deal with the grossest inequality in our generation once and for all,” she said.
Some business leaders claimed that raising the minimum wage will force them to lay off workers and cut hours, but Vice President Joe Biden contended that putting money into the hands of working people actually will stimulate the economy and create more jobs.
“It’s the right thing to do, and the federal minimum wage needs to be raised,” he said. “It’s been 10 years since Congress has increased it. People are further behind today than they were 10 years ago.”
President Obama has called for raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour.
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