Fast Food Workers Are Very Close to a Huge Victory

June 30th 2015

Sarah Gray

Next month is expected to be a momentous one for fast-food workers in New York and the Fight for $15 movement. The state's wage board is expected to announce final plans for a wage increase for up to 200,000 fast-food workers in the state in July.

According to Syracuse.com, all three members of the board believe that there should be an increase to $15 per hour, at a minimum. They have not yet hammered out the final details of their recommendations, which will be submitted to the state labor commissioner.

"The three members on the board are in agreement that there should be a substantial increase," Byron Brown, mayor of Buffalo and chairman of the wage board told Syracuse.com. The other two members of the board are Mike Fishman, the secretary-treasurer of Service Employees International Union, and the founder and chairman of GILT, Kevin Ryan.

On May 6, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) requested that the labor commissioner to create a Wage Board to look into increasing pay for fast-food workers. The board held several public hearings on the issue, including one on June 15 in New York City. Currently, the minimum wage in New York state is $8.75 per hour; it is scheduled to be raised to $9 per hour by the end of this year.

"State law empowers the labor commissioner to investigate whether wages paid in a specific industry or job classification are sufficient to provide for the life and health of those workers — and, if not, to impanel a Wage Board to recommend what adequate wages should be," Cuomo wrote in a New York Times op-ed at the time of the Wage Board's formation.

"On Thursday, I am directing the commissioner to impanel such a board, to examine the minimum wage in the fast-food industry," he continued. "The board will return in about three months with its recommendations, which do not require legislative approval."

In his op-ed, Cuomo addressed a common minimum wage myth -- that raising the minimum wage only helps teenagers with fast-food restaurant jobs. "On the contrary," Cuomo wrote, "73 percent are women, 70 percent are over the age of 20, more than two-thirds are the primary wage earners in their family, and 26 percent are raising a child."

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He also called out major fast-food companies for raking in high profits while paying employees below a living wage. As a result, many fast-food employees rely on government services such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and other services to make ends meet -- costing taxpayers $7 billion, according to a 2013 report from the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Fight for $15 movement, which is calling for $15 per hour minimum wages for fast-food workers as well as others, was born in New York City three years ago. ATTN: spoke to Fight for $15 activists at their rally in downtown Los Angeles on April 15.

I've worked at McDonald's for 22 years. Here is my story.

Bart has worked at McDonald's for 22 years. They have only increased his wage 29 cents per year. Learn about his #FightFor15.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 15, 2015