Governor Cuomo, 1199 SEIU, NYS AFL-CIO, PEF, IBT Local 237, Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, Teamsters & NYS Nurses Association Launch ‘Drive for $15,’ Traveling from Manhattan to the Bronx to Long Island to Fight for Fair Pay

Governor Urges Legislature to Pass $15 Phased-In Minimum Wage this Legislative Session

New Yorkers Encouraged to Visit to Get Involved and Learn More about the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice

ATTN: Photos of the ‘Drive for $15’ Bus Tour Are Available

The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice today rallied with more than two hundred labor leaders, state and local elected officials and community groups in the Bronx in support of enacting a $15 minimum wage for all workers. The Campaign also kicked off the ‘Drive for $15’ bus tour traveling from Manhattan to the Bronx and Long Island to fight for fair pay and make New York State the first in the nation to enact such a proposal. The renewed push comes on the heels of the Governor’s recently released minimum wage report which found that raising the minimum wage to $15 would benefit more than 2.3 million workers and boost direct spending power by more than $15.7 billion in New York State. Governor Cuomo is urging the State Legislature to pass his phased-in minimum wage proposal this session.

“Today is about fairness and standing up for basic decency, humanity and justice for all New Yorkers. Every working man and woman in New York State deserves a $15 minimum wage – and we will not stop until we get it done,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’re taking this fight for fairness on the road, driving all over the state to rally support for raising the minimum wage. This is the year we enact a $15 minimum wage and restore economic justice and bring hope and opportunity to millions of New York’s working families.”

“The core of this fight is simple: no one should work full-time and live in poverty,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “All New York workers deserve a basic minimum of dignity, decency, and fair wages. When we raise the minimum wage, we help millions of workers and their families. We help their communities. We help the entire state. New York must be at the forefront of the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage for all workers.”

“The Bronx was the birthplace of this City’s ‘living wage’ movement, so we know just how important the campaign for a $15 per hour minimum wage truly is,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I am proud to join Governor Andrew Cuomo, my colleagues from all over the state and the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice in this important effort for financial fairness and income equality not just for Bronxites, but for every corner of this city and state.”

“I am proud to stand with Governor Cuomo today in our continued efforts to guarantee fair pay for an honest day’s work,” George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, and the Chair of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice, said. “No New Yorker who works hard should be forced to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table. Homecare workers, nurse assistants, airport workers, childcare workers, adjunct professors and all working people deserve dignity, security and the opportunity to build a better future for their children. The Drive for $15 is the next step in convincing the legislature to pass the Governor’s proposal.”

“This is smart public policy that is long overdue and we are pleased the Governor is taking the right step toward addressing poverty and income inequality,” said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will provide hard-working men and women with the dignity and self-respect that comes with earning a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

Raising the minimum wage increases the standard of living for workers, reduces poverty, and incentivizes fair and efficient business practices – ensuring all members of the workforce can contribute to the economy. Across the state, 50 percent of workers earning $15 per hour or less are 35 or older. In New York City, 80 percent of these minimum wage workers are over age 25, and more than half are 35 or older.

Governor Cuomo has lead the fight for fair pay by raising the minimum wage for tipped workers, increasing the minimum wage to $15 for all fast food workers, and enacting a $15 minimum wage for 10,000 state workers and 28,000 SUNY employees. In 2013, the Governor set in motion a statewide minimum wage increase that raised wages to $9 per hour.

While this progress has been important, there is still more work to be done – especially as the minimum wage continues to fall so far below the average hourly wage in the state, which is now over $27. An increase to $15 would bring the minimum hourly wage up from 32 percent to 55 percent of the state average wage, thereby reducing income inequality in New York State. It also restores the promise of fairness: If New York’s current minimum wage were indexed to inflation and adjusted for cost of living differences it would be approximately $15 today.

What a $15 minimum wage means in New York City:

Workers Earning Current Minimum Wage of $9.00 Workers Earning Minimum Wage of $15.00 Dollars Reinvested in Regional Economy
New York City 261,900 927,400 $6,500,000,000

For a statewide breakdown, view the minimum wage report here.

Boosting New York Families

Raising the minimum wage is especially important for New York’s families. Today more than half of covered workers are women; 54 percent in New York City; and 55 percent in the rest of the state. The current minimum wage pays roughly $18,720 per year. For a single mother with two children, that’s below the official poverty line.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 would increase workers incomes by nearly $13,000 per year – enough for a single earner to support a family of five above poverty. This is not a theoretical proposition. Raising the minimum wage to $15 would directly affect more than 250,000 New Yorkers in poverty – a total of approximately 110,000 families. An estimated 927,400 workers living in New York City will experience increased wages by raising the minimum wage to $15.

Growing New York State’s Economy

Higher wages for low-income workers leads to more economic activity and employment in low-income communities. Studies show that every dollar increase in the minimum wage results in $2,800 in new consumer spending by household. Raising the minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of working families when they need it most, giving them additional spending power.

This projected rise in consumer spending is critical to continued economic growth, especially when weak consumer demand is one of the factors holding back new hiring. The NYS Department of Labor projects that the proposed increase in the minimum wage outside New York City will generate $9.2 billion annually in increased wages, with $6.5 billion annually in increased wages in New York City—tallying to a significant boost of over $15.7 billion for the state’s economy.

A substantial body of academic research has shown that increasing the minimum wage does not lead to job loss. Research shows higher wages lead to greater productivity and increased worker retention, saving employers recruitment and training costs. A review of 70 studies on minimum wage increases found no discernable negative effect on employment. In fact, surrounding state’s that have increased their minimum wage have seen no indication of downturn connected to that increase.

Since 1991, New York State has increased its minimum wage eight times, and six of those times, data shows an uptick in employment following the wage increase. An analysis by economists at Goldman Sachs and CEPR found that the thirteen states – including New York – that increased their state minimum wage in 2014 had higher rates of employment growth than the national average.

Enabling Employers to Plan

The economic benefits of increasing the minimum wage outweigh the costs. But to provide businesses with the opportunity to plan, and in order to be sensitive to the relative abilities of different regional economies to absorb the change, the proposal phases-in the increase in New York’s minimum wage in New York City and more gradually in the rest of the state, on the following schedule:

New York City Statewide (excluding NYC)
Min. Wage Effective Date Min. Wage Effective Date
$10.50 7/1/2016 $9.75 7/1/2016
$12.00 12/31/2016 $10.75 12/31/2016
$13.50 12/31/2017 $11.75 12/31/2017
$15.00 12/31/2018 $12.75 12/31/2018
$13.75 12/31/2019
$14.50 12/31/2020
$15.00 7/1/2021

Congressman Charles B. Rangel said, “I am proud that Governor Cuomo is leading the nation in taking bold actions to securing a pay raise to our working families. Ensuring a living wage is not just about providing fair compensation, but also preserving justice and dignity. Governor Cuomo’s efforts will help combat income inequality in our City and Great State. As I keep pushing to raise the federal minimum wage, I will fight alongside the Governor to ensure we raise the minimum wage for New Yorkers.”

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey said, “New Yorkers working a full-time job should not be living in poverty.  In Congress, I am working to increase the federal minimum wage – adjusted to inflation – so that wages keep up with the growing costs of food, housing, and other necessities in our high cost-of-living area.  I am proud to support Governor Cuomo’s efforts to increase the minimum wage in New York so that working families throughout our state can make ends meet.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said, “It is difficult, if not impossible, with New York’s high cost of living for anyone working full-time to make ends meet while earning today’s minimum wage,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “That’s why I support a $15 minimum wage at the federal level, and it’s heartening to know how hard Governor Cuomo is working toward that same goal at the state level. This year, let’s give New York families a much deserved raise.”

Assemblyman Michael Blake said, “Raising the Minimum Wage and ensuring Paid Family Medical Leave are moral obligations because no one should be working poor and praying to make it in The Bronx, the state of New York or in this nation.  I emphatically support the efforts of Governor Cuomo, 1199SEIU, its President George Gresham and Speaker Carl Heastie in implementing the Mario Cuomo campaign for economic justice so our families can economically thrive not just hope to survive. The campaign is aligned with our vision of 3 Es: Economic Development, Education and Equality for All, and we will continue to#Fightfor15 and Paid Family Leave until they are the law of the land.”

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj said, “No one who works full time should have to struggle just to make ends meet, but too many workers in our community are falling through the cracks due to an inadequate minimum wage. The Governor has long been an advocate in the fight against income inequality and by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, we are taking the first steps towards securing equal economic opportunity for all New Yorkers. I urge the Legislature to make $15 an hour a reality a so that we can restore economic justice for some of the hardest workers our community.”

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo said, “No New Yorkers should have to choose between paying their bills and feeding their family. This commonsense proposal will raise millions of families out of poverty, significantly boost to the state’s economy and help put countless New Yorkers on a path to financial independence. By enacting a $15 minimum wage for all workers, we are not only setting an example to other states that New York is the land of opportunity and fairness, but that we are committed to economic justice for all citizens.”

Assemblyman Victor Pichardo said, “Governor Cuomo’s plan for a $15 minimum wage will not only provide immense relief to families struggling to put food on the table, but will also act as a way to fuel New York State’s economy. Economic justice is something that should be pursued for the good of all New Yorkers—and it’s clear that for the millions of workers in our state, the current minimum wage is simply not a sustainable income. I applaud the Governor for his leadership on this issue, and I strongly urge my colleagues in the state legislature to adopt a $15 minimum wage this session.”