The largest union of healthcare workers in the country applauded The New York Times editorial board Saturday for its support of an initiative to enact the $15 minimum wage across New York.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East has been an adamant supporter of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Union President George Gresham even sits as chairman for an initiative started by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to enact the policy in New York. Gresham thanked The New York Times editorial board for supporting the initiative in an opinion piece Friday.
“Working people applaud the New York Times editorial board for their strong, ongoing support for a $15 minimum wage,” Gresham declared. “The $15 minimum wage would boost the economy and reduce low-wage workers’ reliance on public assistance. But this is not only about improving the economy, it is also about the moral character of New York and what kind of state we want to be.”
The editorial board hasn’t been shy about its support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. In a Feb. 17 write up, it called on Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support the policy. Her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has made the policy a main focus of his campaign but Clinton argues the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour.
“We need to ensure dignity, security, and opportunity for all working families,” Gresham also noted. “By raising the wage here in New York, we can lead the entire nation toward a more just future where hard work is rewarded with fair pay. Working New Yorkers call on the state legislature to take bold moral action and pass the $15 minimum wage by April 1.”
Cuomo has made the $15 minimum wage a pivotal part of his agenda. At the moment the state minimum wage is $9.00 an hour. He announced a proposal in Sept. 10 designed to phase in the increase statewide over a few years. He has also given numerous speeches and has traveled around the state on a campaign-style road trip to advocate for his proposal.
Republicans hold a majority in the state Senate making the passage the proposal uncertain. Such a dramatic increase makes the policy fairly unpredictable and so it has garnered a lot of opposition. The policy has the potential to actually hurt the poor by forcing businesses to cutback on their workforce or increase prices to overcome the added cost of labor.
The University of California, Berkeley and the Economic Policy Institute have found in their research that the policy has a generally positive impact. Nevertheless, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and The Heritage Foundation determined employment opportunities for young and low-skilled workers are at risk of falling when the minimum wage goes up.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found both positive and negative results when it looked at minimum wage increases. Its research found any increase of the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss. The higher the increase, the more impact it will have on employment.
Cuomo has proposed and implemented a number of tax cuts to help relieve costs for small businesses in the state. He has also found ways to unilaterally and partially enact the policy by utilizing his executive authority. He has bypassed the state legislature to raise wages for fast-food workers, state university workers and state employees.
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