New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans Wednesday to bypass the state legislature and raise the minimum wage for fast food workers.
“While American capitalism never guaranteed success, it did once guarantee opportunity,” Cuomo wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times. “But today, too many Americans don’t believe their children will have a better life than their own.”
Cuomo was able to raise the minimum wage in 2013 from $7.25 to the current $8.75. The state legislature rejected his latest attempt to raise the minimum wage in New York City to $11.50 and the rest of the state to $10.50. Now, Cuomo plans to work around legislative approval in the fast food industry with a “Wage Board.”
“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 detailed.
“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.”
Labor unions, like many groups on the left, support raising the minimum wage. The Service Employees International Union, which has pushed for a $15.00 minimum wage especially among fast food workers, praised the idea.
“Governor Cuomo’s move to set a dramatically higher standard for how people who work in fast food are paid is a bold step forward,” SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. “It shows that a $15 wage floor can be a reality.”
“It’s an inspiring change not just for working New Yorkers, but for working people across the country,” she continued. “More and more Americans and our elected representatives are standing up to say that it’s time to stop profitable corporations from paying wages so low that they trap people in poverty.”
Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, warns that the policy and how Cuomo is going about it are bad news.
“This is why we have representative democracy,” Saltsman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s kind of a cowardly way to go about this.”
Saltsman argued such an important economic decision should be handled by lawmakers who are accountable to the residents they represent, especially since it could result in job loss.
“The advocacy groups and unions have been pushing for this unelected wage board,” Saltsman said. “Cuomo is just trying to do a favor for the union.”
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