Politics

New York State Passes $15 Minimum Wage For Fast-Food Workers

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Fast food workers' minimum wage protest in MinnesotaFast food workers' minimum wage protest in Minnesota

New York state’s minimum wage for fast-food workers will be $15 hour by 2019 in New York City, with the rest of the state phasing in the new wage over six years.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the minimum wage hike — of around 40 percent from the current $8.75 per hour — Thursday during a labor rally with Vice President Joe Biden.

Cuomo plans to continue working towards a $15 minimum wage for all workers in New York state, reports NBC New York.

"Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour," Cuomo said. "We're not going to stop until we get it done."

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Biden thinks New York’s decision will impact the nation.

"You're going to make every single governor in every single state in America look at themselves," Biden said. "It's going to have a profound impact."

The minimum wage increase will apply to some 200,000 employees at large chain restaurants.

Cuomo bypassed the state Legislature to usher in the minimum wage increase by using an unelected Wage Board he created, FOX News reports. Attempts to pass an increase in the Republican-led Senate have been blocked in recent years.

"Raising the wage floor in New York that far that fast could lead to unintended consequences such as severe job losses and negatively impact many businesses who are already struggling just to keep their heads above water," said Republican state Senate Leader John Flanagan.

Restaurant owners have threatened to challenge the minimum wage increase in court. They say the increase singles them out and creates an unfair advantage to mom-and-pop competitors who will not have to raise wages.

"By executive fiat, with the stroke of a pen, our financial model goes to pot," Pat Pipino, owner of a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop in Saratoga Springs, told NBC New York.

Pipino says franchise owners may be forced out of business by the increase. He added that they may have to raise prices or cut positions to offset the higher labor costs.

If New York City adopts a $15 an hour wage for all workers, it will fall in line with Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, California, and Berkeley, California. These cities will be phasing in a $15 minimum wage over the next few years.

Sources: NBC New York, FOX News 

Photo Source: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr, WikiCommons