It was a historic day Wednesday for fast-food workers in New York State after a board voted to hike their minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The recommendation — the first by any state in the nation — would raise the rate in increments until it reached $15 in the city by the end of 2018 and statewide by July 2021 at fast-food chains with at least 30 locations. The state minimum is now $8.75.
The proposal unanimously passed the state wage board convened by Gov. Cuomo, who can push through the move without legislative approval.
“You cannot live and support a family on $18,000 per year in the State of New York, period. That’s why we have to raise the minimum wage,” said Cuomo, who addressed a raucous lower Manhattan rally of workers and supporters celebrating the biggest victory yet for their growing movement.
Cuomo predicted the change would spread to other states. “This statement today is going to radiate all across the country,” he said.
The board’s recommendation has to be approved by the state labor commissioner, a near-certainty with Cuomo’s support.
The first step will be a jump in the minimum wage to $10.50 at fast-food joints in the city at the end of this year. It will then go up to $12 a year later, and $13.50 a year after that.
Ty-Shaun Nunez, 21, an aspiring chef who works two minimum-wage jobs — at a Brooklyn Domino’s and an Edible Arrangements store — now hopes he’ll be able to save money for college.
“Sometimes it’s a choice between having our lights on so my little cousins can do their homework, or having fare to get to work. And then there’s days we have to choose between having food on the table or washing clothes,” said Nunez.
Randy Mastro, an ex-deputy mayor hired by fast-food owners for a possible court fight, said singling out one industry is unfair.
“This proposal is an irrational and discriminatory race to judgment to achieve a predetermined outcome,” he said.
The New York State Restaurant Association slammed Cuomo. “The governor has rigged the game at every turn,” said CEO Melissa Fleischut. She said the move was “an extremist policy that will force business owners in this low-profit-margin industry to cut hours, lay off employees and use technology to help offset skyrocketing labor costs.”
Cuomo dismissed those fears.
You have to have someone on the other side of the counter, right? So I think that’s just an idle threat,” he said.
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