April 28, 2022 By Christian Murray
A number of immigrant organizations and labor unions are getting behind a bill introduced by State Sen. Jessica Ramos earlier this year that aims to increase the minimum wage to $20.45 by 2025.
Several organizations held a rally this morning in City Hall Park with Ramos calling for the minimum wage to be hiked in line with inflation. They have formed a coalition called Raise Up New York to advocate for her bill, with its members including Make the Road NY, SEIU 32 BJ, ALIGN-NY among others.
The legislation calls for the minimum wage, which is currently at $15 an hour, to be raised each year in accordance to a formula based on the cost of living and workforce productivity. The legislation would apply to both large and small businesses.
The bill calls for the NYS Labor Commissioner to publish the minimum wage each year determined by the formula. The amount would be based on the 12-month period from July 1 to June 30 each year, with the increase going into effect Dec. 31.
The $15 minimum wage has been in place in New York City since 2018 and Ramos and the coalition say it’s time for a hike in line with the rising costs of groceries, gas, rent and overall inflation.
“New Yorkers need a raise, and they need it now,” Ramos said, who is the chair of the senate labor committee. “Pegging the minimum wage to inflation and productivity will put money back in working people’s pockets, in turn making us more resilient to fits and starts in the economy.”
A companion bill has been introduced in the state assembly by Assemblymember Latoya Joyner of the Bronx, who is the chair of the assembly labor committee.
“For many New York workers the minimum wage has been capped at $15 an hour since the end of 2018 and as prices have gone up with inflation the economic squeeze impacting working families has worsened,” Joyner said. “As a result, New York’s low-income workers need and deserve a minimum wage that protects against the ravages of inflation.”
Minimum wage increases have faced resistance in the past, with opponents saying that they hurt small businesses. Prior to the minimum wage being lifted in various upstate counties at the end of 2020, there were a number of Republicans who called to block it.
“We believe that any increase to the minimum wage would have far-reaching consequences for businesses barely staying afloat in the current state of this pandemic,” wrote a dozen senate Republicans to then Governor Andrew Cuomo. “The state must avoid inflicting additional economic hardship on businesses and causing many small and medium size businesses—especially family-owned restaurants to go out of business entirely—hurting business and workers alike.”
The minimum wage, however, was lifted in the upstate counties as planned.
Ramos’ legislation, however, appears to have the support of voters.
A survey conducted between March 30 and April 4 by Data for Progress found that 83 percent of New York City voters support pegging the minimum wage to inflation, with 12 percent in opposition. Across the state, 81 percent of the 801 respondents said they support it.
Low-paid workers also back the legislation, advocates say, noting that inflation is cutting into their wages.
For instance, Chiptole worker Ed Dealecio said he supports the bill
“Pay for people like me is not keeping up with rising costs,” Dealecio said. This new bill offers a minimum wage that makes sense. This would allow me to budget for food, housing, clothes and more, and not to worry if my wage next year will put me that much further behind.”