The movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for fast-food workers in New York picked up considerable momentum on Wednesday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo, through the Fast Food Wage Board, recommended that the $15 mark be met over the next few years on Wednesday.
Fast-food employees in New York City would be the first to receive the wage increase due to the city's high cost of living, The New York Times reported. New York City workers would receive the wage by 2018. The wage would be transitioned in throughout the rest of the state over the next three years.
The decision will likely be met with little legislative opposition, as it will reach the New York State labor commissioner and bypass the state legislature, a move calculated by Cuomo with the creation of the Fast Food Wage Board in May, Bloomberg reports.
"You cannot live and support a family on $18,000 a year in the state of New York--period." Cuomo said at a rally, according to the Associated Press (AP). "This is just the beginning. We will not stop until we reach true economic justice."
New York's move comes after the decisions of several cities across the U.S., among them San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, to greenlight $15 the hour wage increases.
At the rally, Cuomo suggested that New York will in turn inspire more states to follow suit.
The decision was hailed a victory by many, including Bill Lipton, state director of the Working Families Party.
"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," Lipton said to The New York Times.
Jackie Jordan, a fast-food worker, explained the ways in which the measure would help her to WABC-TV.
"It means I can live comfortable, stress-free, be able to pay my bills, be able to go shopping, food, clothes, laundry, actually live normal again."
Some were troubled by Gov. Cuomo's wage board and its legal implications.
"Many of them [franchise owners] fear they won't be able to survive with a 66 percent increase imposed on them by the state," Randy Mastro, an attorney for restaurant owners, said to WABC-TV.
David Sutz, co-owner of four Burger Kings in Westchester and Dutchess countries, said fast-food restaurant owners may find others ways to counter the $15 wage hike.
"We're being singled out for an unknown reason," Sutz said to the AP. "Unfortunately, I can turn one of my registers into a kiosk and eliminate a position. Labor is your second most expensive cost in the industry after the product."
New York's current minimum wage is at $8.75 an hour. With the new proposal, fast-food workers are expected to see a wage increase of over 70 percent.
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