Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his support to increase the New York state minimum wage to $15 per hour, according to reports from The Atlantic and other news outlets. If successful, the rate would be phased in by 2018 for all employees in New York City, and across the state by 2021, but fast-food workers would receive the higher wage immediately.
Calls for higher minimum wages have been made elsewhere in the country. We previously reported on the City of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage ordinance and a proposed ballot initiative in California, as well as increases in 21 states that took effect earlier this year, but New York’s would become the highest statewide minimum wage. Currently, the District of Columbia leads the U.S. with a statewide minimum wage of $10.50.
“If you work full-time, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty — plain and simple,” Cuomo said at a rally where he was joined by Vice President Joe Biden. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will add fairness to our economy and bring dignity and respect to 2.2 million people, many of whom have been forced to live in poverty for too long.”
A fair minimum wage is an important topic, and will likely become an issue in the 2016 elections. U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, announced a bill in July that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; if enacted, the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, would more than double by 2020 the current $7.25 rate set in 2009. The bill would also eliminate the $2.13 minimum wage for workers who rely on tips.
Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group fights for employees who have been denied wages and overtime in violation of state and federal laws. We will continue to watch the nationwide trend toward higher minimum wages!