NY Minimum Wage Crusade Puts Sights On State Colleges

Connor D. Wolf | Reporter

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to announce an executive order Monday to raise the minimum wage for state university workers to $15 an hour.

Cuomo has already enacted a $15 minimum wage for fast-food and some state workers. The goal is to eventually implement a $15 minimum wage across the state. Unlike industry specific minimum wages, however, a statewide increase will need approval by the legislature. The increase for state university workers will impact an additional 28,000 state workers as well as students in work-study jobs.

“The truth is that today’s minimum wage still leaves far too many people behind, unacceptably condemning them to a life of poverty even while they work full-time,” Cuomo told The New York Times. “This year, we are going to change that.”

Cuomo will officially announce his executive order during a rally in Manhattan. The move is just the latest unilateral action by Cuomo to push the $15 minimum wage. The governor announced Nov. 10 an earlier executive order to raise the minimum wage for state workers. Prior to that, the state commission on labor approved a plan in July to enact the increase for fast-food workers.

Cuomo also introduced a proposal Sept. 10 that would gradually bring the minimum wage to $15 throughout the state by 2021. Currently no state has enacted a $15 minimum wage across the board but some cities have. Seattle led the way in passing the $15 minimum wage back in June 2014. San Francisco and Los Angeles followed not long after. Since then many more cities have enacted increases.

The push has prompted adamant support and opposition. Critics argue many businesses don’t have the profits to handle such an increase. They note such businesses would have few options to offset the added cost of labor. They could increase prices or hire less workers. In some cases the businesses may have to close.

While critics warn of job loss and economic stress, supporters say the $15 minimum wage will help the poor by allowing them to more easily afford basic necessities. The increased spending would then in turn stimulate economic activity. The union-backed Fight for $15 movement has been at the forefront of pushing for the higher minimum wage. It has utilized protests and media marketing campaigns in its efforts.

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