Panepinto: "To prolong the injustice that is income inequality in this day and age is shameful and inexcusable."
State Sen. Marc Panepinto, who is currently pushing his comprehensive minimum wage legislation (S.5602) in the Senate, was joined by fast-food workers, community activists, policy experts, Democratic Conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and elected leaders to kick-off an aggressive statewide campaign in the "Fight for $15." Additional rallies were held throughout the state today at events in Buffalo, Rochester and New York City to coincide with the first meeting of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's historic Wage Board.
Panepinto made the following statements at the event:
"To prolong the injustice that is income inequality in this day and age is shameful and inexcusable. This historic Wage Board address that injustice by recognizing that the interests of working people should always take priority over corporate interests. All hardworking families that work full-time deserve a fighting chance. A statewide increase in the minimum wage commensurate with what our workers deserve is the only solution.
"I am proud to sponsor legislation in the Senate that accomplishes this by transforming our current poverty wage to a living wage. This life-changing legislation has already passed in the Assembly. It is now incumbent upon my fellow senators to take up the charge and pass it in our house before the end of session. The lives of so many millions depend on it."
Panepinto's bill (S.5602) will incrementally raise the minimum wage and tipped wage by 2018 and ensure any future increases beyond then are tied to the rate of inflation.
Wednesday's campaign kick-off follows Cuomo's historic announcement earlier this month that he would convene a board to examine and set wages for fast-food workers in New York - the state's fastest-growing, but lowest-paid industry. The announcement is the largest statewide action to date in the "Fight for $15" movement. It comes on the heels of other high profile victories in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
"Gov. Cuomo's decision to convene this Wage Board to raise New York's minimum wage, starting with fast-food workers, is exactly the sort of bold leadership to address poverty wages and inequality that the voters are demanding," said Paul Sonn, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project. "With Los Angeles now the latest city to approve a $15 minimum wage, Gov. Cuomo's Wage Board provides a vehicle for delivering to working New Yorkers the same sort of long-overdue wage."
Panepinto's minimum wage legislation aims to accomplish the following:
•Provide a higher minimum wage by increasing the statutory minimum wage in areas with a high cost of living over a period of three years.
Increases would be broken down as follows:
•Indexes the minimum wage to the rate of inflation on and after Dec. 31, 2019.
•Raises the tipped wage for workers over a period of three years to be broken down as follows:
•Indexes the tipped wage to the rate of inflation on and after Dec. 31, 2019.
The senator's bill was already passed by the New York State Assembly.
Panepinto represents the 60th Senate District, which includes parts of the City of Buffalo as well as communities in both the north and the south towns of Western New York.