Minimum Wage Deal Falls Short

For Immediate Release: March 31, 2016

Minimum Wage Deal Falls Short

Albany, NY - In response to the reported deal to raise New York's minimum wage, the Rev. Emily McNeill, Lead Organizer of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State said:

"The announcement that New York City’s minimum wage will increase to $15 by 2019 marks an important and historic victory for the city’s low-wage workers, who have courageously organized and protested for nearly four years. The Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State congratulates the workers who put their livelihoods on the line to tell their stories and demand the dignity, respect and fair wages that all people deserve.

"However, the minimum wage increase announced tonight falls short of the standard of a living wage, which we hold to be a moral imperative. The purpose of the minimum wage when it was first established was to ensure that employers paid wages that could support a decent life for their workers. We believe that the minimum wage must be a living wage - one that covers the basic necessities for a person to live a healthy life. Anything less condemns working people to be dependent on charity or public assistance or to go without necessities. This is morally indefensible.

"The increase to New York City’s minimum wage does not achieve the goal of a living wage, but it is a significant step in that direction. The same cannot be said for the planned increase for upstate New York.

"A minimum wage of $12.50 will not come close to covering the cost of living for a single, full-time worker anywhere in New York State in 2021. Further, a raise of just 70 cents a year over 5 years will not give upstate the economic boost a more meaningful increase would have provided.

"In this budget the governor and legislators have failed upstate workers and communities, which desperately needed bold action against poverty and inequality.

"Despite our disappointment and anger at this outcome, we continue to be inspired by the movement that put a $15 wage on Gov. Cuomo’s agenda in the first place. Without the risk-taking and truth-telling of thousands of low-wage workers and their allies, New York would not have come this far. The Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State looks forward to continuing to be part of the fight for a living wage for all New York workers."