Fight for $15 is gearing up to protest for a higher minimum wage across New York state Jan. 13 when Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will deliver his State of the State Address.
Cuomo and Democrats in the state have already done a lot to push for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Nevertheless, they have faced fierce opposition from critics of the policy. Business groups have warned of the negative impact the policy could have. At the same time Republicans, who tend to oppose the $15 minimum wage, hold a in the state Senate. The union-backed Fight for $15 hopes the protest will put pressure on state lawmakers to pass the increase statewide.
“The state legislature can pass a statewide $15 in 2016,” the state chapter of the AFL-CIO said on its website. “But they need to feel the pressure from people across the state who know that an $8.75 minimum wage isn’t enough to live on. Take a stand against poverty wages in New York on January 13.”
Cuomo introduced a proposal Sept. 10 that would gradually bring the minimum wage to $15 throughout the state by 2021. Unlike industry-specific wage increases, a statewide increase will need approval by the legislature. Supporters will need to convince some Republicans to support it.
There were several things supporters were able to do without Republican support. The governor announced Nov. 10 an 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 forfast-food workers.
Fight for $15 has been at the forefront of pushing for a $15 minimum wage. It has held rallies and media campaigns across the country. It is primarily backed and influenced by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Other unions have also lend their support. SEIU Local 1199 launched a television spot in July supporting the statewide increase.
Seattle led the way back in June 2014 when it became the first to pass a $15 minimum wage. Since that time only cities have passed it. A few states, however, are fighting to become the first with a $15 minimum wage.
Critics argue many businesses don’t have the profits to handle such an increase. Some low-profit industries like restaurants 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. Some businesses within the state have already reported problems because of the increase.
The push has prompted adamant support and opposition. While critics warn of job loss and economic stress, supporters say the 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 governor’s office claims approximately 10,000 state employees will be benefited.
The New York State Association of School Business Officials warned Oct. 30 that the proposal could cost state school districts $276 million. The New York Farm Bureau said Monday the proposal would cause severe stress on farmers and higher food prices. Wage Reality Check Campaign, a coalition of business and labor groups, launched a campaign in opposition to the proposal.
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