A state panel appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended a $6.25 increase in hourly wage for fast-food workers Wednesday, bringing minimum wage to $15.
The panel’s recommendation catapults New York City into uncharted waters — over the next few years, wages will be raised faster in the city than in the rest of the state due to the high cost of living, the New York Times reports.
The change was sparked by a nearly three-year effort by the labor protest movement and fast-food workers to pull higher wages for all workers across the country.
According to the NYT:
The panel’s recommendations, which are expected to be put into effect by an order of the state’s acting commissioner of labor, represent a major triumph for the advocates who have rallied burger-flippers and fry cooks to demand pay that covers their basic needs. They argued that taxpayers were subsidizing the workforces of some multinational corporations, like McDonald’s, that were not paying enough to keep their workers from relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits.
The $15 wage would represent a raise of more than 70 percent for workers earning the state’s current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. Advocates for low-wage workers said they believed the mandate would quickly spur raises for employees in other industries across the state, and a jubilant Mr. Cuomo predicted that other states would follow his lead.
“When New York acts, the rest of the states follow,” said Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, citing the state’s passage of the law making same-sex marriage legal. “We’ve always been different, always been first, always been the most progressive.”
The recommendation was a welcome one that was celebrated in the Manhattan streets Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s a victory!” Alvin Major, a 49-year-old cook at a KFC restaurant in neighboring Brooklyn told NPR. “We have been fighting, and today we have made history. This will help me to take care of my kids, send them to the right school and put food on the table.”
The increase will affect workers at chains with 30 stores or more, NPR notes, and will match recent bumps in minimum wage in other large cities such as Los Angeles and Seattle.
For more information on the roll out of the minimum wage bump, read here.