The deal to increase the minimum wage in New York will keep the state at the top of the list for the highest base wages for low-paid employees. However, the amount of the raise is disappointing for some labor activists. They had hoped for an even bigger bump.
An agreement between Governors Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders would raise the minimum wage to $17 an hour in New York City, some of its suburbs, and $16 an hour in the rest the state. Kathy Hochul, legislative leaders This is a significant increase over the current rates of $15 for the city and $14.20 for upstate.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers would be used to measure inflation.
According to the agreement announced on Thursday night, New Yorkers will be guaranteed an hourly rate that is well above the $7.25 federal minimum wage. According to the National Employment Law Project, they would still earn less money than workers in California Washington and Hawaii who will likely all have minimum wages of at least $18 by 2028.
Any pay increase is a win for the labor movement. Some employers objected, saying that paying workers more would hurt their companies’ efforts to control costs.
Some liberal Democrats were not satisfied with the pay increase. They argued that recent high inflation rates made it more difficult than ever to keep workers up to date without a wage rise.
We must take the fight against poverty more seriously. Jessica Ramos of Queens, a Queens Democrat and a senator who has proposed raising the minimum wages above $20, said that the true cost to live in New York – particularly within the five boroughs – cannot be sustained with $17 an hour. This agreement codifies a wage which keeps working families in poverty.
In a press release, Raise Up NY (a coalition of labor organizations, legislators and advocacy groups) called the new agreement “weak” and said that it offered workers very little financial relief.
The agreement has also been criticized by those who oppose the wage increases, claiming that it could be harmful to small businesses which have already suffered major losses during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Steve Ammerman is a representative of the New York Farm Bureau. This group represents farmers. He said that the wage increase may be especially detrimental to dairy farms, as it could force them to cut back on staff, hours or even close their doors. He claimed that inflation and minimum-wage increases had already caused farm closures, and the latest wage increase would make it more difficult for farms to remain in business.
William Barclay is the top Republican in the State Assembly. He said that he was concerned about wage inflation for all professions if a minimum wage increase were to be implemented. He said that the state could have reduced sales tax or suspended the gas taxes on certain delivery and home goods to relieve inflationary pressures.
Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour. However, states and localities can set higher amounts. At least 30 of the states have done so.
Hochul’s original plan for cost of living increases would have limited any annual pay increase to 3%. This was a safeguard meant to cushion the blow during periods of high inflation. The Governor’s Office would not say on Friday whether a cap will be included in final version of state budget bill that is expected to pass by lawmakers within the next few days.
State Assembly Leader Carl Heastie confirmed that the concept agreement was reached in a Thursday night statement, but said Democrats from the State Assembly still had to discuss certain issues.