New York, NY—Following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s just-announced plan to convene a wage board to set a higher minimum wage for fast-food workers:
“Governor Cuomo’s historic action in convening a wage board to examine and set wages for fast-food workers in New York State bears testament to the power of workers organizing for decent pay and a voice on the job. That the Fight for $15, which started in New York City less than three years ago, has achieved this milestone is a game-changer that will no doubt reverberate around the nation and across numerous low-wage industries.
“The governor’s move proves that a $15 wage for fast-food and other service workers is no pipe dream. It’s already very real in Seattle, SeaTac, and San Francisco. With New York City—the nation’s most populous city—now poised to significantly raise wages for fast-food workers, a $15 wage is quickly becoming the new baseline for the fast-food industry and the service industry as a whole.
“While this proposal covers fast-food workers from the Bronx to Buffalo, it will create waves in other low-wage industries, such as retail, home care, and child care, where workers are also badly underpaid. This will make it harder for other service-sector employers to pay poverty wages and should help pave the way for wage increases in these other industries as well.
“It’s an incredible victory for the courageous fast-food workers who began taking to the streets less than three years ago in their Fight for $15 campaign. Cynics dismissed their demand for $15 as unrealistic, but the workers have shown what can be achieved by standing together and speaking the truth about their struggle to live on poverty wages.
“The fact that savvy politicians like Gov. Cuomo are answering their call confirms that raising wages is a winning political issue. It also happens to be the right thing to do.”