“You cannot live and support a family on $18,000 in the State of New York, period,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) this week. “That’s why we have to raise the minimum wage.”
And so they are, at least for fast-food employees working at chains with a minimum 30 U.S. locations. On Wednesday, New York’s fast food wage board recommended a 70 percent increase to the state’s minimum wage, raising it from the current $8.75 an hour to $15 an hour.
The long-overdue change—which affects mostly women—won’t happen overnight. The board recommended raising the minimum wage in New York City to $10.50 by the end of this year, increasing it incrementally to $15 by 2018. The rest of the state will have to wait a bit longer, waiting until 2021 to reach $15.
Los Angeles, too, has made big some changes to its minimum wage this week. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to include unincorporated areas of the county in the city council’s previous decision to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Also this week, the University of California announced it will be raising its minimum wage for school employees to $15 by 2017.
These advancements come in the wake of years of labor organizers’ hard work to increase wages. Rallying around the Fast Food Forward and Fight for $15 campaigns, workers have held countless one-day strikes targeting fast-food chains across the country to bring light to the fact that, for far too many working citizens, the current minimum wage simply isn’t enough.
In May, Cuomo wrote that “nowhere is the income gap more extreme and obnoxious than in the fast-food industry.” Though this may be true, and though New York is moving in the right direction, hopefully it will look to extend its minimum wage increase to other workers as well, as cities like Seattle and San Francisco have done for their citizens.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user OFL Communications Department licensed under Creative Commons 2.0