Retail

$15 and a Union?

May 8, 2015
By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY—Maybe, as Governor Andrew Cuomo, taking a page out of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Tale of Two Cities playbook, announced on Thursday afternoon that he would be creating a wage board that would determine how much workers should be paid to earn a living wage.

The current New York State minimum wage is $8.75; the governor tried to raise New York City’s minimum wage to $11.50 and the rest of the state to $10.50 earlier this year but the legislature foiled that attempt. But with the creation of a wage board he wouldn’t need to rely on the legislature to approve it. He announced at Union Square in front of fast food workers and two of the city’s largest private sector unions—32BJ SEIU and the New York Hotel Trades Council—that he would enact the wage board’s suggestions.In a New York Times Op-Ed on Wednesay Cuomo invoked President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, saying that he too “faced powerful opposition to the minimum wage.” He also wrote that New York State ranks first in public assistance spending per fast-food worker—$6,800 a 

Governor Cuomo calls for the creation of a wage board in New York State.

year.

“That’s a $700 million annual cost to taxpayers,” said Cuomo.

In the accompanying video, we interviewed Michael Carey to get his reaction to Cuomo’s announcement.

“It’s awesome,” said Carey, who works at JFK Airport.

Carey has been involved in the campaign with 32BJ SEIU for the past three years to help increase airport workers’ wages. We asked him how would he react if the wage board suggests only $12 an hour rather than $15.

Hector Figueroa, 32BJ SEIU’s president

“Well, we started at $7.50 an hour. We got to $10.10 in February and if we go to $12 an hour, we still have a lot to hope for that we’ll get to $15 an hour,” Carey said.

@marcbuss marc@laborpress.org

May 7, 2015

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