From NYC to New York State: Fast Food Workers Prevail in Fight for $15/hr Minimum Wage

Photo: Annette Bernhardt/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: Annette Bernhardt/Flickr Creative Commons

The fight levied by New York City fast-food workers for an increased minimum wage can officially be called a statewide success, as State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino signed off on a bill yesterday stipulating that the new minimum wage for all fast-food workers in New York State will gradually rise to $15/hr by 2021. The bill comes on the heels of activism mounted by underpaid fast-food workers, who have held rallies, demonstrations and coordinated acts of civil disobedience to publicize their plight for years. It’s an historic victory. 

The fast-food law was announced at a ceremony attended by Musolino, Vice President Joe Biden and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who trumpeted plans to broaden the increased minimum wage to all of New York State on a gradual, piecemeal basis. On his proposal of an increased state minimum wage, Cuomo offered idealistic rhetoric that harkened back to the words of his father Mario, the 52nd Governor of the state of New York:

If you work full time, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty – plain and simple,” said Governor Cuomo. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will add fairness to our economy and bring dignity and respect to 2.2 million people, many of whom have been forced to live in poverty for too long. My father’s words about helping those left behind in the shining city are not just a dream – they were true when he spoke them, and they still ring true today. We will overcome the skeptics and demonstrate to the American people that we can make this a better place because New York is the state of possibility. We can restore hope and opportunity, and we will do it with a $15 minimum wage that ensures economic justice for all.”

Vice President Biden also expressed his support for the measure: “raising the wage for fast-food workers in New York will have a profound impact on the country,” he said at the ceremony at the Javitz Center in Manhattan.

As the Cuomo administration pushes the plan for an increased state minimum wage and drafts a bill in time for the next legislative session, New York fast-food workers will see their wages rise gradually, as demonstrated by the following chart:



Cuomo’s plans to increase the pay of fast-food workers and eventually every hourly worker in the state follows the form of a few other progressive-minded cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, all of which have expanded the minimum wage to $15/hr. New York City fast-food workers will see their wages meet the $15/hr minimum by 2018.


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