Attention food startups: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered up a state wage board to study the food sector in New York and make recommendations on the minimum wage workers should be paid.
Cuomo was rebuffed by lawmakers during the budget process on a proposal to raise the minimum wage for all workers to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 in the rest of the state. His latest effort, which sidesteps legislators, relies on an existing law that empowers the labor commissioner to investigate whether wages paid in a specific industry or job classification are “sufficient to provide for the life and health of those workers.”
Minimum wage was $7.25 per hour when Cuomo took office. It’s now $8.75 and will rise to $9 at the end of the year.
Cuomo announced the panel in a lengthy op-ed in today’s New York Times, in which he noted that the nation’s minimum wage was first enacted into law in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, another former New York Governor.
“Roosevelt, too, faced powerful opposition to the minimum wage,” Cuomo wrote. “But he did not pull his punches as he said: ‘No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.'”
Many fast food workers must use some public assistance in order to make ends meet, Cuomo noted. In fact, New York State ranks first among the states in its public assistance spending per fast food worker, roughly $6,800 a year.
“That’s a $700 million annual cost to taxpayers,” Cuomo wrote.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had urged Cuomo to pursue a government panel on the fast-food industry, said he was “gratified” at Cuomo’s decision to convene the wage board.
“All across our state, men and women working full time jobs are living below the poverty line. This is unconscionable,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Cuomo’s full op-ed is here: http://nyti.ms/1KMOw9b