Tag Archives: minimum wage

Op-ed: Fast-food wage hike could harm New York health care industry

| oped@queenscourier.com



Gov. Cuomo has established a wage board within the state Department of Labor to consider raising wages of workers in the fast-food industry to $15 per hour. Hearings held by the wage board have included compelling testimony from fast-food workers about how difficult it is to survive on the earnings typical of that industry.

As executive director of Queens Centers for Progress (QCP), a nonprofit providing a comprehensive range of services to children and adults with developmental disabilities for 65 years, I have firsthand knowledge of another group of people whose earnings make it difficult-to-impossible to make ends meet: our direct care staff.

More than 400 of QCP’s 600 staff members have direct, hands-on responsibilities for the people we serve. They dress, feed, bathe, toilet and provide daily care to people with significant disabling conditions. As part of their jobs they must go through background checks and extensive training. There are thousands of similar staff doing similar work across New York State.

The salaries we are able to pay staff are determined, and limited, by the operating rates available through our government funding sources, primarily Medicaid. We cannot raise the price of a product or service to generate more income. Our starting salaries for direct care staff are several dollars per hour less than the $15 target being discussed for fast food workers.
We already have difficulty filling direct care openings, and these positions turn over at a high rate. Many staff who find this work rewarding are forced to choose other jobs for purely economic reasons, thereby depriving the people in our programs, who have come to know and depend on them, of a familiar, caring presence. Increasing the wages of fast food workers alone to $15 would only make this situation worse.

However deserved it may be, a significant increase in wages for fast-food workers, while ignoring other hardworking but low-paid employees in the developmental disabilities field, would have a terribly negative impact on services to some of New York State’s most vulnerable citizens. It would increase the likelihood that someone considering a direct care job would not take it in the first place. It would increase the likelihood that existing staff would leave their job for a fast-food position because the wage difference was too great to ignore.

It would truly be a case of unintended consequences, where something done in a desire to help one group of people would make matters worse for others. This is not sound public policy.


Op-ed: It’s time for Congress to raise the minimum wage

| oped@queenscourier.com


It’s been more than four years since Congress last raised the federal minimum wage. Hard-working families are doing all they can to make ends meet during the worst economy of our lifetime – but through no fault of their own – feel like they are just slipping further behind.

When adjusted for inflation – the federal minimum wage of $7.25 today is much lower than its peak in 1968. Too many working poor families are below the poverty line, which not only holds these families back, but also holds back our local economy from its full potential growth.

New York City is home to three of the nation’s top 10 areas with the highest cost of living, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. Queens ranked seventh in the country. For Queens residents, it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet with the rising cost of groceries, rent, transportation, and basic necessities.

Last year, New York State passed legislation increasing the wage to $9 an hour by 2015. It’s no coincidence that of the 10 states with the lowest wage gaps, seven have set a minimum wage higher than the federal rate.

Now, it is time for Congress to follow New York’s lead and take action. It is simply unacceptable that a single parent working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to support a family, earns just $290 a week. That’s $15,000 a year – without any time off. That salary is $3,000 below the poverty line for a family of three in New York.

We need an economy that rewards hard work. Raising the federal minimum wage would give working men, women and families the power to raise themselves into the middle class – and benefit the entire economy through stronger consumer confidence and more customers for local small businesses.

In fact, increasing wages to $10.10 an hour would boost incomes for millions of American workers, and generate billions in new economic growth, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

And let’s be clear, this is not just about teenagers working part-time summer jobs.

• Close to 90 percent of the lowest wage earners who would see their paychecks increase by raising the minimum wage are over the age of 20;

• 62 percent of minimum wage earners nationwide are women, who also happen to be a growing percentage of family breadwinners;

• Nearly one-third of all single parents in America would see an increase in pay by raising the minimum wage;

• Raising the minimum wage would help more than 15 million women in America.

Last year, I stood with State Senator Jose Peralta, Make the Road New York, and Queens businesses in Jackson Heights pushing for federal legislation to help millions of workers move from the working poor into the middle class with more money in their pockets being spent in our local economy.

This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to finally vote on legislation raising the wage to $10.10 an hour over the next 3 years and indexing it to inflation moving forward to allow the rate to keep up with rising costs of living.

The bill has broad support from business leaders – including the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Alliance, and employers like Costco – because they know that strong wages lead to a stronger workforce, higher productivity, and a growing business.

This commonsense measure is long overdue. Boosting wages would not only lift working poor families above the poverty line and onto stable ground, it can also drive economic activity, boost Queens businesses and strengthen local economies.




Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Light snow this morning giving way to partly cloudy conditions this afternoon. High near 30. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Snow accumulations less than one inch. Wednesday night: Clear skies. Low around 15. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Mid-Winter Taste for City Harvest

This food tasting event at  Resorts World Casino showcases over 30 food purveyors, and all proceeds will benefit City Harvest. Entry at 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NY Assembly passes Dream Act providing tuition aid

New York’s Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that would open state tuition assistance programs to students in the country illegally, and now the measure moves to an uncertain future in the Senate. Read more: AP

NYC Council follows mayor’s Lead, steps away from St. Patrick’s Parade

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the council won’t have an official presence at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of rules that prevent gay and lesbian groups from identifying themselves while marching. Read more: CBS New York/AP

New Yorkers favor letting cities boost local minimum wage

A new statewide poll shows a large majority of New Yorkers support giving municipalities authority to raise the minimum wage locally, something Gov. Cuomo opposes. Read more: New York Post

NY Assembly contracts for $210K outside counsel on sexual harassment policy

The state Assembly has entered into two contracts worth $210,000 for an outside counsel to handle sexual harassment policy development and investigations after a high-profile scandal. Read more: NBC New York

Snow likely every day for the next 3 days, then again on the weekend

Snow is likely to fall every day for the next three days as arctic air settles over the tri-state region, where it will stick around through the weekend. Read more: NBC New York


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Partly to mostly cloudy. High near 25. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday night: Cloudy with periods of snow after midnight. Low 23 with temps rising to near freezing. Winds NE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 90%. About one inch of snow expected.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Forgotten Queens

Author Kevin Walsh and Rich Melnick of the Greater Astoria Historical Society discuss their new book of local history, Forgotten Queens. 7 p.m. Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st St., Astoria. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

De Blasio called police boss about arrested pastor

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the commanding officer of the police department’s press office to ask about the arrest of a politically connected pastor who endorsed him and served as a member of his transition team, but the pastor had already been released, police and administration officials said Tuesday. Read more: NBC New York

Cuomo discourages allowing city to set own minimum wage

Barely 24 hours after the mayor said New York City would lobby Albany for the right to set its own minimum wage, Gov. Cuomo shot down the idea as economically damaging to the entire state. Read more: New York Post

NY cabbies call for penalties against drivers who don’t clear snow, ice off cars

The brutal winter has made for some tough driving conditions. Read more: CBS New York

FBI to offer bounty program for laser attacks

The FBI is launching a reward program in New York and other cities to deter people from pointing lasers at aircraft. Read more: Fox New York

Nearly 3.8M Graco child car seats recalled

Graco is recalling nearly 3.8 million car safety seats because children can get trapped by buckles that may not unlatch. Read more: AP

City Comptroller Scott Stringer sits down with The Queens Courier

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

City Comptroller Scott Stringer sat down with The Queens Courier to discuss his first weeks in office and just where he plans to go from here.

“We hit the ground running,” he said. “It’s getting out and listening to what people say. If you want to do audits and identify people and agencies, you talk to people in the streets and get a very good idea.”

Stringer oversees the city’s $150 billion pension fund and also registers an average of 22,000 city contracts from every business concerning technology, to day care, to public housing.

For the start of his term, he has already audited public housing as well as the three separate public library systems.

He is a supporter of raising the minimum wage to $11 to accommodate the city’s price of living, and also an advocate for establishing a guaranteed revenue stream for universal pre-kindergarten. He believes in advancing public schools, namely in technology, to give students a fighting chance at a successful future.

Stringer has also made some changes internally intended to improve the efficacy of the comptroller’s office. He has proposed to ban placement agents, the “middle men” who have been involved in various past scandals, and brought in risk management professionals.

“I can’t audit an agency unless my own house is in order,” he said.

With The Courier,  Stringer covered borough-centric topics and expanded on how he plans to keep Queens, and the whole city, afloat financially.

“Nobody knows this city better than me,” he said.


What is your political background?

“Well, I haven’t told anyone this, but the first thing I wanted to be was a pro quarterback with the New York Jets. Then I realized early on by the age of 12, I was a little washed up,” Stringer said.

Stringer’s family had a foot in the political door when his mother ran for City Council. Growing up in Washington Heights, he thought “everyone was involved in government or politics.”

“I’m doing exactly what I always wanted to do,” he said. “The job of comptroller has never been more important [than] with this new government. I have the opportunity to work on issues I really care about.”

Stinger said the city’s economic issues are “really about civil rights and about moving everybody to where they have to be.”

“The challenge we face in the city [is] how do we bring everybody along economically,” he said.

The MTA has suspended No. 7-train service from Long Island City to Flushing for 22 weekends. What economic impact for local businesses do you foresee?

“When you have a large transportation project that in the long run will modernize the system, that’s something that’s goal-worthy,” Stringer said. “But when you don’t plan the reconstruction with the community, when you don’t partner with the businesses, you end up sacrificing people.”

“You’re sacrificing people in the name of progress, you can’t do it that way,” he said.

As comptroller, Stringer said he can “follow the money,” and make sure it is “being spent wisely.”

Additionally, he wants to “elevate this office so New Yorkers know when they want to bring an issue to my attention, they know what this office can do and what we’re going to do.”

The city Build it Back program for Sandy victims has tested the patience of many residents still trying to rebuild. How do you plan on monitoring those funds, as well as the $15 billion the city is set to receive in federal recovery funding?

During Stringer’s campaign, he proposed creating a Sandy Audit Bureau, designed specifically to watch every dollar designated for storm recovery. He has followed through and said he and the bureau will look at contractors and will be “laser focused” in making sure the money goes where it should.

“Where we find corruption or misuse of money, I want to make it very clear to everyone we will make referrals to law enforcement agencies based on our findings,” Stringer said. “The worst that can happen is you get hit by two hurricanes, because somebody took money or didn’t do the work they said they were going to.”

The comptroller is also working with Councilmember Donovan Richards and others involved with the Sandy Tracker, an online database monitoring recovery money coming in and out of the city.

He also said the administration should extend the deadline for Build it Back so more people can gain access to the recovery assistance program.




Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Tuesday: Mostly sunny this morning then becoming cloudy during the afternoon. High 19. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday Night: Cloudy. Low 17. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Tuesday Morning Music Club of Douglaston

Pianist Hannah Wang plays two compositions by M. Ravel and two compositions by C. Debussy. Expect a guest artist and post-concert sandwich lunch. Starts at 11 a.m. at the Douglaston Community Church, 39-15, Douglaston Pkwy., 516-466-4034.

Reports critical of MTA

Three recent reports on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority including an audit by the NY State comptroller show mostly bad news for customers using Metro North, LIRR and the subways. Read more: Fox New York

Comptroller Scott Stringer urges Albany to let NYC set own minimum wage

New York City should have the power to set its own minimum wage, city Comptroller Scott Stringer told legislators in Albany on Monday. Read more: CBS New York

Pols hold hearings to stop hooker trade at Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is a “sex-trafficking magnet,” a congressman leading the fight against such exploitation warned at a House hearing Monday. Read more: New York Post

NBC News poll: Pessimism defines the state of the union

As President Barack Obama enters his sixth year in the White House, 68 percent of Americans say the country is either stagnant or worse off since he took office, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Read more: NBC New York

Folk singer, activist Pete Seeger dies in New York

Buoyed by his characteristically soaring spirit, the surging crowd around him and a pair of canes, Pete Seeger walked through the streets of Manhattan leading an Occupy Movement protest in 2011. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Friday: Cloudy with occasional showers this afternoon. High 38. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%. Friday night: Foggy with rain developing after midnight. Low 37F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: KAIJU Art Exhibition opening reception

RESOBOX, at 41-26 27th Street, in Long Island City, is having an opening reception at 7 p.m. for the KAIJU Art Exhibition. Kaiju” is a Japanese word meaning [monster]. A staple of Japanese sci-fi movies) like Godzilla, Gamera,and the Ultraman series, these monsters are huge and threatening; bigger than skyscrapers and  extraordinarily powerful. In this exhibition, artists come to NYC from all over the world with their own “Kaiju”art works, that source of inspiration from the huge shadow of “Kaiju”.

Queens job-seekers spend night in cold for chance at union job

Armed with space heaters, chairs wrapped in plastic and lots of layers, hundreds of job seekers in Queens didn’t let the frigid temperatures stop them from spending the night in the cold for the chance at a coveted union job. Read more: ABC New York

De Blasio calls Bridgegate lane closures ‘immoral’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has called the apparently politically inspired lane closures on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge “immoral.” Read more: New York Post

Raising minimum wage could mean layoffs, business owners caution

While 13 states, including New York, raised their minimum wage above the federal level Jan. 1, many workers and the White House are pushing for even higher pay. Read more: CBS New York

Assembly Democrats call to end tax breaks for companies that hire teens

Assembly Democrats Thursday called for the repeal of a tax break for companies that hire teen workers. Read more: New York Daily News

 Jobs report could show things are looking up

December’s employment report, due out Friday, is expected to show about 200,000 new payroll jobs — a steady rate of growth and an encouraging sign that the labor market and economy may have finally started to turn after years of false starts. Read more: NBC News



NY State minimum wage to increase to $8 per hour starting Dec. 31

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Changes are coming to the state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems, and there will be an increase in minimum wage.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the passage of the state budget in March, 2013, which included raises in the minimum wage to $8 per hour from $7.25, effective Dec. 31.

Previously, New York lagged behind 19 other states in minimum wage levels. By the end of 2014, the minimum wage will increase to $8.75 and then $9, by the end of 2015.

“Thanks to the persistence of the Assembly majority, this budget ensures that tens of thousands of hardworking, minimum-wage-earning New Yorkers will be receiving much-deserved and badly needed raises in each of the next two years,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.

Reforms coming to New York State unemployment insurance include enhancements to prevent fraud and aggressively require claimants to look for work, among other improvements. Also, there will be an increase in wage bases.

Currently, employers pay unemployment insurance contributions on each worker’s earnings up to a certain point called the wage base. The current wage base for 2013 is $8,500. The wage base will be adjusted on January 1 each year and increase to $13,000 by 2026.

After 2026, the wage base will be adjusted annually on January 1 to 16 percent of the state’s average annual wage.

The workers’ compensation system is under repair as well.

The system is under a business process re-engineering, focusing on improving the system’s processes, performance management and upgrading technology.

Right now over 30 states use a national electronic standard for worker’s compensation injury reporting. New York will join this growing trend of electronic injury reporting in 2014.

The state hopes that this move will reduce paper forms and duplicate filings, provide greatly expanded access to injury and payment data, simplify and speed up case processing, and allow the workers’ compensation board to better regulate the workers’ compensation system.





Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Friday: Sunshine to start, then a few afternoon clouds. High 39. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low 32. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: ReMake the Holidays

Build and animate a new version of the holiday season with workshops, demos, artist installations, ice sculpting and a screening of Bag It The Movie at the New York Hall of Science. Friday, December 27- Monday, December 30. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City incarceration rate drops by more than a third during Bloomberg’s tenure

In his final days in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted a historic drop in crime in the city. Read more: CBS New York

Computer glitch gives some lucky fliers cheap airfare on Delta Air Lines

Christmas came a day late for some quick – and lucky – travelers.Read more: CBS New York/AP

NY minimum wage rising to $8 per hour

New York’s minimum wage will increase to $8 per hour at the end of this year, 75 cents higher than the federal minimum and the old state rate. Read more: NBC New York

De Blasio inauguration tickets sell out quick — then get scalped

It took just two hours for the 1,000 public tickets to Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio’s Jan. 1 inauguration to get snatched up and only a few more minutes before they were being scalped on CraigsList. Read more: New York Post

UPS, FedEx still delivering after pre-Christmas shipping snags

UPS and FedEx are still working in overdrive to deliver packages promised by Christmas that never made it. Read more: AP

Cuomo budget has $21 billion for Sandy relief

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sandy, education and economic development were top priorities in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget, but despite the unexpected costs from the storm, the proposed plan eliminates a $1.3 billion gap with no new taxes or fees.

“By making difficult decisions over the past two years we have brought stability, predictability, and common sense to the state’s budget process,” said Cuomo.

“Sandy caused widespread destruction and as we begin the daunting task of rebuilding in southern Queens and the Rockaways, the governor’s proposal focuses on our needs by including $21 billion for disaster-related recovery, rebuilding and mitigation,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

But the budget doesn’t stop at Sandy.

It increases education aid by $889 million, or an average of more than $300 per student, raises the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.75, and reforms the Workers’ Compensation system, saving more than $900 million.

In addition to money set aside for Sandy relief, another part of the budget is also good news for the borough.

The plan extends a film tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of 2014, for five more years.

“New York’s film tax credit has made our film industry an economic success story during an otherwise difficult economy,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “As the home for some of New York’s largest film production studios, western Queens has earned its reputation as Hollywood East thanks to this incentive program. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his ongoing support of the film tax credit and look forward to seeing western Queens continue to benefit from this important job-creating tool.”

On Tuesday Cuomo also announced a new website, Openbudget.ny.gov, which gives the public access to the state’s budget.

“Open Budget is bringing the people back into government by taking budget data out of government file cabinets and making it available to the public for the first time in an easy-to-access, downloadable form. This will facilitate research, analysis and innovation,” said Cuomo.

Minimum wage workers rally for better conditions

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Samul McCalman said he only gets a four or five minute break during his shift that normally runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Although he and his wife work full-time, the Guyana native ­­— who has only lived in the U.S. for about 20 months — said it’s still hard to make ends meet.

McCalman was one of several people taking part in the march on Thursday, July 20, to raise awareness for the many in the area working for as little as $7.25 per hour, or less. The march, which ran down Jamaica Avenue starting at Parsons Boulevard, ended at the Jamaica LIRR station, where the AirTrain makes berth.

Rallying at the AirTrain site was to show solidarity for airport workers who are underpaid by companies who are contracted with JFK and LaGuardia, organizers said.

“The reason we are here is because of the disparity and inequality there is for low-wage workers,” said Maria Maisonet, who marshalled the group to the station. “You deserve to be able to eat, you deserve to be able to pay your rent.”

On their way, the 20 people chanted demands for higher wages and better living conditions. “Community need over corporate greed,” and “Hey, hey, JFK/give your workers better pay,” could be heard down the avenue on the overcast afternoon.

This rally was part of a lead up to a larger one for better wages that took place on Tuesday, July 24, according to Olivia Leirer, a spokesperson for New York Workers Rising. It was also in response to a recently released report by the advocacy group that highlights how hard it is for minimum wage workers to live in the city.

Jamaica was chosen to be the rally site because of what Leirer said was a failure to bring jobs with adequate pay to the area.

“It’s kind of a broken promise to bring better jobs to the community,” she said, referring to the AirTrain and most airport related jobs, which are mainly through contractors. “Most of the jobs that were brought to the community are minimum wage jobs.”

Despite most passers-by keeping their heads down and getting on with their afternoon commute, the march did seem to reach some.

During chants of “affordable wages, not poverty wages” one man walking past muttered to himself, “that’s right.”

Raising the Minimum Wage in New York: What Government Could and Should Do.

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

By Assemblywoman Grace Meng

On Tuesday, I joined with my colleagues in the State Assembly in voting to raise New York State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50.  I voted for and co-sponsored this bill because it will have a tremendous positive impact on the lives of working families here in Queens and throughout New York.

In these difficult times, with our economy still recovering from the excesses of Wall Street and unaccountable banks, this was a chance to vote to help working families, build our economy, create jobs and stand up for the people who make our city, state, and nation work.

First and foremost, raising the minimum wage helps working people and working families make ends meet. Across the nation, but especially here in Queens, the cost of everything has gone up while wages remain stagnant. Rent, utilities, subways and buses, higher education, and groceries have all gotten more expensive while take-home pay has shrunk and jobs have become fewer and further between.

Arguments against raising the minimum wage, from conservative politicians and right-wing think tanks – which generally center around the claim that increasing take home pay for low wage workers leads to fewer workers being hired – have been proven false time and time again.  And when paired with appropriate support for small businesses, such as tax credits and assistance in winning government contracts, boosting the minimum wage has actually been show to be an economic stimulus.  How does increasing the minimum wage grow our economy and create jobs? More money in the pockets of working people means more money spent in our communities. Minimum wage workers aren’t parking their money in overseas bank accounts or investing in risky hedge funds. They’re spending in their neighborhood by shopping at local supermarkets or local clothing stores, fixing their apartments or homes, and improving their quality of life.

Every dollar added to the local economy generates at least two to three more dollars in increased economic activity. When supermarkets and groceries get busier, they hire to keep up or give more shifts to the workers they have. Restaurants and coffee shops near busier stores get busier too, and then they also need to hire. More activity on local streets benefits public safety. Inside homes, more money means less food insecurity, less stress, more focus, and more opportunities for our children, who are the ultimate and most important beneficiaries of all this positive activity.

The NYS Senate Republican Majority has not yet indicated their support of this vital measure. Negotiations there continue.

Raising the minimum wage is about our shared priorities and the best way for our government to grow out of this recession. Too often, politicians discuss fixing the economy solely by focusing on our wealthiest citizens and corporations – how much to tax them, how much to regulate them, how much to expect from them.  While we certainly need to discuss whether or not the wealthiest among us are doing their fair share, we also need to discuss the direct ways in which we can raise up middle and working families.

Above all, government’s job is to maintain an even playing field and define not just what we could do, but also what we should do.

Wealthy people and large corporations could move their money overseas to shield their themselves from taxes, but should they? Investment banks could, and have, bet their own money against their client’s investments and somehow get away with not calling that a massive conflict of interest, but should they? Global retailers can bribe foreign officials and defend massive employment discrimination suits while also lobbying to open stores in New York City, but should they?

New York could raise the minimum wage, and should be on the side of all the working and middle income families who are one unexpected medical bill away from being poor. New York could support businesses as they invest in our communities, and should be in the business of encouraging safe homes and healthy families.  New York could and should be a national leader in showing how government, business, and working families can emerge from despondent times, not just through top-down policies that privilege a few, but from grassroots community development driven by a realistic and practical increase in our minimum wage.

In the end, increasing the minimum wage is about making sure we are doing those things we should do –  making New York a better place to live, work and create jobs.  It’s about doing not only the right thing, but the smart and responsible thing.  By any measure, raising the minimum wage passes these tests. I hope State Senate Republicans come to agree with this common-sense conclusion.



Is minimum wage going up?

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

In one of the country’s most expensive cities, workers have to make the most of every minimum – and New York politicians are now planning to “wage” war for their cause.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Labor Committee Chair Keith Wright introduced legislation on January 30 to raise the minimum wage in New York from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour. The bill would also index the minimum wage to inflation to ensure it does not erode if prices rise in the future.

“Raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation is a matter of economic fairness, and our plan progressively rewards hardworking men and women who are trying to make ends meet,” said Wright. “According to the U.S. Census, nearly half of all Americans have fallen into poverty or joined the ranks of the working poor. This is not the American Dream. New Yorkers who work full time shouldn’t be poor. It’s as simple as that.”

The increase would come into effect in January of 2013, and the minimum wage would be indexed beginning in January of 2014, requiring an increase each year to adjust for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The legislation would also increase pay for food service workers who receive tips to $5.86 an hour. This wage will also be indexed annually.
“No one who works full time should be poor and without hope,” said Assemblymember Francisco Moya. “We need to reward work and restore a sense of fairness. We need to raise the minimum wage. New York’s working families are seeing a decline in their purchasing power, and the question is no longer whether they can live on the minimum wage, it’s whether they can survive on the minimum wage.”

New York’s minimum wage has only increased by 10 cents over the past five years — rising along with the federal minimum to $7.25 an hour in 2009, before which it was $7.15. Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wage rates than New York. Ten states have also already passed legislation indexing the minimum wage.

The public appears divided regarding the increase, with some apprehensive about the potential effect on the employment rate.

“I don’t know how raising the minimum wage is going to affect jobs and job creation,” said Pete Gorynski, a paint manufacturer from Bayside. “In terms of minimum wage jobs I think of unskilled workers and high school and college kids. They are stepping stones. I think raising the minimum wage may make these jobs less available.”

Others believe a raise in minimum wage is belated, and the people require more financial boosts in these exigent economic times.
“I think it is good to raise minimum wage,” said Sid Curry, a resident of Bushwick. “America has suffered terrible wage depressions since the 1970s, so we are overdue for this kind of thing.”