Living Wage Victory on Long Island
By Neal Tepel
August 1, 2010
On Monday July 26, 2010, every member of the Nassau County Legislature voted to protect a $1 Living Wage increase for thousands of low-income Long Island workers. That means that starting August 1st, workers in industries like home health care — who earn an average of just $22,000 a year — will finally get a Living Wage of $12.50 per hour.
Leading the effort to push for a Living Wage on Long Island was the Long Island Federation of Labor and 1199 SEIU with many labor and community organizations joining this initiative. Unions and community groups fought for this living wage when it was first proposed several years ago. A bill was passed that would gradually increase wages for healthcare workers over several years. However, Health Center Owners lobbied to stop the last part of the expected raise which would have increased pay for employees to $12.50.
For weeks prior to this July 26th legislative vote, labor representatives lead by the Long Island Federation of Labor and John Durso, President of the Federation, held round the clock meeting with legislators and community leaders. The day of the legislative vote hundreds of men and woman demonstrated in front of the Nassau County Legislative Office. The effort of this vast coalition ensured that a living wage continues of Long Island. This fourth and final wage hike of $1 an hour, brings the total to $12.50 effective August 1, 2010.