Mayor Bill de Blasio is hopping on the executive order train—seemingly the only able to leave the station in an election year. He plans to sign an order today that will broaden the city’s living wage law to raise the hourly minimum wage for workers who do not receive benefits, from $11.90 to $13.13. It may not seem like a tremendous hike, but from week to week, $1.23 more an hour is significant. In the short-term, this is good news; in the long-term, if de Blasio succeeds, the news could be even better.
De Blasio’s hourly minimum wage hike precedes a push in Albany to allow the mayor of New York City to set the citywide minimum wage according to the calculated living wage, the New York Times reports. This is in line with other de Blasio administration initiatives, like paid sick leave for hourly workers and the (somewhat slow-moving) promise of increased affordable housing. Governor Andrew Cuomo remains dubious about the supposed slippery slope of allowing municipalities to set their own minimum wage, though he has supported increasing the statewide minimum wage to $10.10, the same figure President Obama used in raising the minimum wage for federal contractors back in February, also by executive order. De Blasio’s executive order is expected to affect 4,000 workers, many of whom work in fast food or retail. The Times calculates that, for these workers, the increase in income could amount to $10,000 per year.
Seattle, meanwhile, raised its minimum wage to a relatively whopping $15 per hour in June and has not yet fallen into the sea or become a communist terror cell. While it’s disappointing that executive orders seem to be the only way to achieve pro-worker legislation, the precedent they set may allow broader reforms to gain traction with, you know, legislators. On whatever scale and by whatever means, though, good things are happening.
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