July 2004

Minimum Wage

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Susan John • Chair, Labor Committee
Minimum Wage Facts:
  • One in nine, or 10.7 percent, of all New York State families, and nearly 40 percent of households headed by women live in poverty
  • Almost three-quarters of a million people and their families will be affected by the increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour
  • An increase in the minimum wage to $6.00 would increase the annual income of a full-time minimum wage worker in 2004 to $12,480, which would still be below the 2003 federal poverty threshold of $14,824 for a family of three
  • Nearly 75 percent of those earning less than $7.25 per hour are adults between 20-64 years of age

New York’s workers deserve better pay

People should make decent, livable wages and shouldn’t have to worry about putting food on the table after working 40 hours or more a week. Hard-working New Yorkers should be fairly rewarded for their labor.

That’s why the Assembly passed a measure that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $7.25 an hour (A.11698). The legislation would increase the state minimum wage to $6.00 per hour on October 1, 2004; $6.75 an hour on June 1, 2005; and $7.25 on January 1, 2006. Food service workers receiving tips would also receive yearly wage increases – climbing to $4.75 an hour on January 1, 2006.

Other provisions of the bill allow an employee advocate to bring a wage and hour complaint, and establish the state labor commissioner’s access to wage and hour records in investigating alleged violations.

The governor and Senate are absent from the fight for a minimum wage increase

This measure marks the Assembly’s second attempt to pass a minimum wage increase this year and the Senate and governor’s second opportunity to act on behalf of New York workers.

The Senate and governor must realize our state’s antiquated minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is an insult to the New Yorkers who work in some of the toughest jobs. Families need an increased minimum wage to help make ends meet.

The Senate and the governor need to join the Assembly in improving the lives of hard-working New Yorkers.

Opponents of a minimum wage increase are out of touch with lowest-paid New Yorkers

It’s hard to believe that anyone could argue the current minimum wage is fine the way it is. In New York State, a full-time minimum wage worker earned just $10,712, or less than three-quarters of the annual income needed to keep a family of three out of poverty in 2003.

Yet, the NYS Conservative Party suggests that minimum wage jobs were never intended to be the means to support families – merely a stepping stone for teenagers and students before they can advance in the job arena.

In reality, it’s women who account for 60 percent of those earning less than $7.25 an hour, and of those, almost half have children to clothe and feed. These workers, who live hand to mouth, need a livable wage now. And why shouldn’t they? Anyone who puts in a hard day’s work deserves a fair wage.

Governor’s failed economic policies leave New York workers unprepared

The failures of the current administration have cost us countless opportunities to turn our flailing economy around and to improve the skills and opportunities for our workforce. For many families, this translates into taking on multiple minimum wage positions just to pay the bills.

For nine straight years, the governor has failed to provide New Yorkers with a compelling vision for our economic future, not to mention a cure for our present fiscal ills. In fact, had the state’s employment grown at the same rate as the nation’s between January 1995 and December 2003, New York would have created 432,900 additional jobs.

Assembly’s plan leads the way for a better wage and better jobs

The bottom line is, not only do we need a livable wage now, we need economic development policies and comprehensive job-training to lead New York’s economy into the future. Assembly initiatives such as NY@Work would create tens of thousands of jobs, help businesses, and leave New Yorkers better prepared to compete in today’s high-tech economy.

The Assembly earmarked nearly $525 million for the plan, which will help bring a focus that has been sorely lacking under the governor’s policies to New York’s economic development efforts. At its heart, NY@Work takes advantage of our many strengths – a strong education system, a skilled workforce, a tradition of manufacturing, and diverse regional economies.

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