Nearly three years ago, thousands of New York City’s fast-food workers began protesting for a hike in pay, and thanks to their tireless efforts, there will be a wage increase for workers all across the country. Beginning in the city that started it all, The New York Times Reports.
With approximately 180,000 low-wage workers in New York City being employed by fast-food restaurants, a panel appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recommended on Wednesday that the minimum wage for fast-food workers throughout the state be raised to $15 an hour, with the change occurring in NYC faster considering the higher cost of living in the city.
The $15 wage would represent more than a 70 percent increase for employees making New York’s current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. A wage that, for years, fast-food workers complained wasn’t enough to dissolve their reliance on food stamps and other welfare benefits.
After the board reviewed dozens of testimonies from fast food workers, with advocates often pointing to enormous pay packages that chains gave their top executives, they agreed the state should require fast food restaurants to pay more. This new mandate is believed to catapult wage increases in other industries throughout the state, and Governor Cuomo predicted that other states would soon follow his lead.
“When New York acts, the rest of the states follow,” said Cuomo, referencing New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage. “We’ve always been different, always been first, always been the most progressive.”
Bill Lipton, state director of the Working Families Party, called the decision a victory for the “99-percenters.” Mr. Lipton, who has pushed for better pay for low-wage workers for years, said, “There’s clearly a new standard for the minimum wage, and it’s actually a living wage for the first time in many, many decades.”
The first wage increase is slated for Dec. 31, elevating the minimum in the city to $10.50 and in the rest of the state to $9.75. Then the wage in the city would rise in increments of $1.50 annually for the next three years thereafter, until it reaches $15 at the end of 2018. In the rest of the state, the hourly wage would rise each year, reaching $15 on July 1, 2021.
Other major cities across the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, have also made plans to increase minimum wages. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed to raise the county’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, matching a decision made by the Los Angeles City Council in June.
Let’s hope that the minimum wage in all states increases to $15 or more soon, because the cost of living sure isn’t staying below the $10 line.