Skip to main content

Cuomo announces $15 an hour minimum wage phase in for state workers

Email share

Governor Cuomo announced he’s raising the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour.  That did not stop advocates from protesting at the Dunkin Donuts at the state Capitol, saying the governor’s  recent phased in wage increase for fast food workers is too slow.

Cuomo, at a union rally in New York City, announced he’ll raise the minimum wage for state workers to  $15 an hour by 2018 in New York City and 2021 in the rest of the state.

“We are going to lead by example,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to establish a public sector minimum wage. And we’re going to start in our own house.”

The act makes New York the first state in the nation to eventually pay its minimum wage public workers $15 an hour.  It effects around 10,000 state workers, including custodial staff and office clerks.

Meanwhile, demonstrators targeted the Dunkin Donuts on the first floor of the state Capitol, even though Governor Cuomo  already convened a special wage board to phase in a $15 an hour rate for fast food workers. But it won’t be fully implemented in New York City by 2018, and upstate by 2021. Mark Emanatian , with Citizen Action, says that’s too long.

“These great big huge corporations that are making  millions and in some cases billions of dollars can afford to pay a living wage ,” he said.

Travill Caruth, who works at Burger King, and who spoke as part of rally on the Capitol’s ornate red granite million dollar staircase, says it’s not soon enough for him. He says he tries to support himself and his wife on $8.85 cents an hour.

“She’s epileptic and our expenses are not covered.” Cartuh said.

Down the hall from the protesters, Republicans who rule the State Senate were reconvening for a pre- session strategy meeting.  GOP Leader John Flanagan reacted to Governor Cuomo’s plan to submit legislation to raise the minimum wage for all workers in the state when the new session starts in January.

The Republican Leader did not rule out a phased in $15 an hour minimum wage, but says several steps have to be taken first.

“I’m open to discussions,” said Flanagan. “I’m not going to commit to anything one way or the other.”

Flanagan says he expects extensive discussions among Republicans and even public hearings.

“I have every expectation that we’ll come to, whatever it may be, some kind of compromise,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan says he’s not happy with Governor Cuomo’s unilateral action to use a wage board to raise fast food workers’ wages, without any input from the legislature, calling it “executive overreach”. 

Governor Cuomo has proposed adding some tax breaks for small businesses to better afford the wage increase.