NEW YORK— New Yorkers gathered on the steps of City Hall this morning to urge Albany to keep a plan to raise the minimum wage in the state budget as negotiations intensify in the final days before the April 1 deadline.
Workers called on the Legislature to include a plan that will raise the minimum wage up to $15 an hour with indexation so that as the cost of living rises, so will the wage.
“It’s not a secret that workers cannot survive on the minimum wage,” said Miguel Cardona, member of New York Communities for Change and Carwash worker. “Even when I work a full 40 hours a week or more, I struggle to pay rent, pay my bills and bring food to the table. Most paydays something will have to give. The state legislature should do the right thing. My landlord can’t wait, my bills can’t wait and my family can’t wait for a fair wage.”
“I am currently working at CVS to help support my family, but my dream is to go back to school so that I can become a full-time teacher,” said Jerome Murray, a sales associate at CVS Pharmacy. “Right now I’m just trying to save money so I can take the necessary classes and make my dream come true. But unless I’m earning $15 an hour, I don’t see how that is going to happen.”
“We simply can’t afford to live in New York if we are making the minimum wage,” said Michael Carey, an Aviation Safeguards security officer at JFK Airport. “I have struggled to pay my bills, struggled to pay for transportation to get to work and struggled to take care of my daughter. Even though I make poverty wages, when life gets tough I am expected to follow through on my responsibilities. Even if it is difficult the state legislature should do the same. We need to make $15 an hour now.”
The workers were supported by unions, community groups and elected officials who said that Albany must listen to the voices of working people.
“New Yorkers need a minimum wage that will let them support their families with dignity,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “Hard working men and women need $15 an hour to pay the rent, to put food on the table, take care of their kids and survive in this city. We urge the Assembly and Governor to stand strong in their support of workers.
Elected officials from New York City and State also affirmed their support for the campaign to raise the wage.
“When people working full-time still cannot support their families, government must act. Raising the minimum wage isn’t just something we should do — it’s something we must do,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “What’s more, raising the minimum wage is an issue of fairness and equality: workers earning minimum wage are disproportionately persons of color, and nearly two thirds are women.”
“The men and women of New York who go to work day in and day out deserve to make a living wage” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. “We are talking about affording people who work 40 hours a week the right to support themselves and their families, given the glaring number of men, women, and children living in this New York at or below the federal poverty line we cannot wait any longer. Raising the minimum wage needs to happen now and not a moment later. I am proud to stand with this coalition of elected officials, workers, and advocates to ensure a higher wage for anyone willing to work. I call on the Governor and our colleagues in the State Senate to make this their priority as well.”
“The great State of New York should be leading the way on minimum wage. Municipalities across the nation, including some with lower cost of living standards, have taken steps to solve this problem, while New Yorkers are left behind. The middle class, and any notion of it, continues to shrink in our failure to provide meaningful wage reform,” State Senator Jose Peralta said. “Low paying industry workers deserve a paycheck for their hard work that covers basic goods and services.”
“New York State’s inadequate minimum wage causes millions of hard working New Yorkers to struggle financially to simply cover their basic living expenses, such as food and housing,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “New Yorkers deserve to be paid a wage that reflects their cost of living and allows them to prosper. I am proud to stand with so many leaders of our community demanding that we establish a just minimum wage for our all New Yorkers in this year’s budget.”
“Hard work and a full time job should not equal poverty, but in New York City, that is the reality for too many workers,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “When I first proposed a $15 minimum wage for big businesses last year, some said it was pie in the sky. Now the Assembly majority has put a $15 minimum wage across the city in their budget proposal. With the end of the budget approaching, it’s unconscionable for Albany to block a wage that will really make work pay. I thank the coalition of working New Yorkers, unions, community groups and elected officials for making their voices heard to raise the wage.”
“In the state of Washington, workers earn $15 an hour. Here in New York State, the same work only receives $8.75 an hour. Our local minimum wage is a choice — not a necessity — by CEO’s who live extravagantly while their workers struggle to make ends meet. New Yorkers deserve better. They deserve enough income to feed their families, and they deserve a $15 minimum wage. I am proud to stand here today with all members of the Raise Up NY Coalition and look forward to seeing an increased minimum wage across New York soon,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“For all of the working families of New York City, struggling to make it in the fast food or retail or in any industry, it is time to raise the wage to $15 per hour,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I commend the New York State Assembly majority for their leadership in raising the wage, and encourage the State Senate to change their proposal to one that reflects the reality of New Yorkers.”
“I remain a strong supporter of the State Assembly Majority’s well-reasoned minimum wage proposal, because it’s what hardworking New Yorkers deserve,”said City Council Member Margaret Chin. “This is the best path forward for our city, as well as our state, as it has been for others all across the country.”
“The Working Families Party stands shoulder to shoulder with the movement of courageous low-wage workers whose fight for $15 has transformed the national debate about inequality,” said Bill Lipton, New York State Director of the Working Families Party. “That’s why we stand strong behind the Assembly’s proposal, which allows millions of New York’s lowest paid working families to imagine a life where they’ll no longer have to choose between buying food or paying the phone bill. New York should be leading the fight for an economy that works for all of us–not just the wealthy and well-connected. Working families’ wages have stagnated while all the gains of their labor have gone to the top one percent for far too long. No working person should have to go back to Albany to beg each year for a cost of living increase.”
With more than 145,000 members including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.