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Cuomo kicks off 'Fight For Fair Pay' campaign in Buffalo


Tue, Mar 3rd 2015 07:30 pm

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today kicked off his "Fight for Fair Pay" campaign in Buffalo, where he was joined by labor and community leaders to rally support for the passage of his proposal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 per hour.

The "Fight for Fair Pay" campaign is a call to action to raise the minimum wage in New York this year. As part of the campaign, the governor and members of his cabinet will travel across the state to garner support for the governor's proposal.

"We need to increase the minimum wage this year to ensure we continue to have a strong workforce, which is key to economic success," Cuomo said. "As our local businesses continue to grow, it's time to provide additional support for our low-wage workers to keep New York moving forward. The state is strongest when all New Yorkers have the opportunity to succeed, and our fight for fair pay will make this state a leader in protecting its workforce and building stronger communities."

The New York State Department of Labor reports there are approximately 43,000 workers making the current state minimum wage of $8.75 per hour in Western New York today. Approximately 102,000 additional Western New York workers would be affected by increasing the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour. 

The New York State Department of Labor projects the proposed increase in the minimum wage outside New York City will generate $1.5 billion annually in increased wages - tallying a significant boost for the state economy.

The state's current minimum wage is $8.75 per hour, which has fallen far below the average hourly wage in the state. In 2012, the governor signed legislation into law that increased the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 incrementally by Dec. 31 to better align with the cost of living across the state.

However, as the cost of living in New York continues to rise, the governor proposes to again increase the minimum wage to increase earnings for many wage earners in low-income households, which he said also will aid local economies.

Business and labor organizations including the Retail Council of New York State, Hotel and Motel Trades Council, 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU and others support the governor's efforts to increase the minimum wage.

Cuomo's camp said a reasonable minimum wage could help improve the standard of living for workers, reduce poverty, encourage fair and more efficient business practices, and ensure the most vulnerable members of the workforce can contribute to the economy.

Key Statistics for Minimum Wage Workers in New York

•There are currently more than 594,000 minimum wage ($8.75) workers in New York, 42,000 of which are in Western New York.

•55 percent of hourly workers earning $10.50 or less outside of New York City are over age 25.

•34 percent of hourly workers earning $10.50 or less outside of New York City are over age 35.

•57 percent of hourly workers earning $10.50 or less outside of New York City are female.

•Raising the minimum wage to the level the governor is proposing will lift more than 100,000 New Yorkers out of poverty.

More information about the facts related to raising the minimum wage in New York is available here.

The governor's proposal to raise the minimum wage is part of 10-point plan to combat poverty and fight inequality included in his 2015 opportunity agenda:

  1. Raise the minimum wage to $10.50 statewide and $11.50 in New York City.
  2. Expand the unemployment strikeforce to the top 10 highest areas of unemployment to help ensure every New Yorker who wants a job can find one.
  3. Double the funding for the urban youth jobs program to combat the high unemployment rates among inner-city youth in communities across New York.
  4. Invest more than $486 million in housing for vulnerable New Yorkers.
  5. Invest an additional $220 million in homeless services.
  6. Invest $183 million to support NY/NY IV Housing Program to create additional supportive housing units for populations requiring a little more aid.
  7. Commit $4.5 million to advance the governor's anti-hunger task force.
  8. Create a $50 million nonprofit infrastructure capital investment program to improve the quality, efficiency, accessibility and reach of nonprofit human services organizations that serve New Yorkers.
  9. Increase MWBE opportunities to 30 percent.
  10. Create the "Get On Your Feet" loan forgiveness program to help eligible New York residents who graduate from college and continue to live in the state pay nothing on their student loans for the first two years out of school.

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs of living and people's expenses. I'm pleased to join Gov. Cuomo in this fight to raise the minimum wage statewide and I urge our state legislators to support this important initiative."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "In January of 2005, I published an analysis examining the potential impact an increase in the minimum wage could have on our economy. While some said increasing the minimum wage will hurt the economy without providing any proof to back up their claims, my analysis found the opposite to be true - an increase in the minimum wage actually helps grow the local economy and can reduce local public assistance rolls - and nothing 10 years later leads me to believe otherwise. I called for an increase in the minimum wage back then to create a better community and we have seen our economy flourish at the same time the minimum wage has grown, but that growth is not enough. Once again we must increase the minimum wage to make it a more living wage, and I commend Gov. Cuomo for making it a priority of his administration to help the hard-working men and women of New York see the fruits of their labor from the payment of a fair minimum wage."

George Harrigan, president of Teamsters Joint Council No. 46 in WNY, said, "I am for any change in a positive direction. An increase in minimum wage will actually help create jobs, because a person working two or more jobs to make ends meet could afford to drop one of them - providing an opening for another worker."

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