Skip to content
Know Your Rights
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Governor Cuomo, Joined By Vice President Biden, Announces Push to Raise New York’s Minimum Wage to $15 An Hour

Governor Cuomo, joined by Vice President Joseph Biden, today rallied for fair pay for New York’s workers and announced a push to make New York the first state in the nation to adopt a $15.00 per hour minimum wage. This announcement comes on the same day that Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino signed an order designating a $15.00 per hour statewide minimum wage for fast food workers – the level recommended by a State Department of Labor wage board earlier this summer. The Governor’s proposed all-industry minimum wage increase should be phased in to mirror the fast food wage order, taking full effect by December 31, 2018 in New York City and July 1, 2021 for the rest of New York State.

“If you work full time, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty – plain and simple,” said Governor Cuomo. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will add fairness to our economy and bring dignity and respect to 2.2 million people, many of whom have been forced to live in poverty for too long. My father’s words about helping those left behind in the shining city are not just a dream – they were true when he spoke them, and they still ring true today. We will overcome the skeptics and demonstrate to the American people that we can make this a better place because New York is the state of possibility. We can restore hope and opportunity, and we will do it with a $15 minimum wage that ensures economic justice for all.”
The Governor and Vice President were joined by more than 1,200 workers, community members and advocates at the Javits Center in New York City to celebrate the success of the fast food wage board and continue that momentum. In the coming months, the Governor’s administration, with elected officials, business leaders and community members, will bring the push for a $15 minimum wage across the state to build support for a bill to be introduced in the next legislation session.

Governor Cuomo has consistently fought to increase the minimum wage in New York State. In 2013, the Governor signed legislation that raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to its current level of $8.75. That legislation included another incremental increase to $9.00 that will take effect by the end of 2015. Additionally, the State Department of Labor empaneled a wage board last July, which led to an increase in wages for tipped workers from $4.90, $5.00 and $5.65 to $7.50 per hour on December 31, 2015.
Fast Food Minimum Wage Order Signed

On May 7, 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo instructed Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino to empanel a Wage Board to investigate and make recommendations on an increase in the minimum wage in the fast food industry. The Fast Food Wage Board members were: Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, representing the public; Kevin Ryan, Chairman and Founder of Gilt, representing businesses; and Mike Fishman, Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, representing labor.

The Fast Food Wage Board filed its report on July 31 that in part recommends the State raises the minimum wage to $15 for employees of fast food chains. Today the Commissioner signed the wage order, which per statute must be issued within 45 days once the report is filed. The order is now subject to the regulatory process.

The signed wage order is available here. The schedule for New York’s minimum wage increase in the fast food industry is below.

New York City



Minimum Wage ($)



Minimum Wage ($)





































Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said: “To grow the middle class, we need to set a livable wage that lets families pay their bills and save for their future. This is a smart investment in our workforce and our economy, and I’m proud New York is leading the nation to pull workers from a low-wage cycle of poverty.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said: “Hard-working New Yorkers deserve a wage that can actually support themselves and their families. No one should work full-time and still live in poverty. For years, I have stood with workers demanding a real, living wage for all New Yorkers. In April, when I first called for a state wage board to give fast food workers a pay hike, I stressed that the wage board was just the beginning. Today, I join Vice President Biden and Governor Cuomo in calling for a living wage for all New Yorkers and will do everything in my power as Attorney General to protect and expand workers’ rights.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said: “I am pleased that Governor Cuomo’s wage board took decisive action to raise the wages of fast food workers across New York. On behalf of all the members of the Assembly Majority, I commend Acting Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino for signing this wage order and for the wage board’s service to workers around the state. The Assembly has long led the fight for a significant increase in the minimum wage for all workers across the state, and I am pleased that Governor Cuomo is joining us in our efforts. No one who works full time should have to live in poverty. Let New York – the proud Empire State – lead the way for the rest of the country and finally pass a real minimum wage that will lift people out of poverty and help them realize the American dream.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said: “By raising the minimum wage for all workers, we can lift so many lower-income families out of poverty and make a profound investment in the economic future and livelihood of the entire New York community. I am excited to see the progress of this movement develop and I am confident that with the Governor’s support in the upcoming legislative session we will make the minimum wage a livable one for all.”

Senator Gustavo Rivera said: “Securing a higher wage for fast food workers is a great achievement, and with the legislative season fast approaching we need to harness this momentum to raise the wage for every New Yorker who earns the minimum wage. I commend Governor Cuomo for his vision and commitment to hard working New Yorkers and look forward to continue supporting this movement to ensure that we have a livable wage here in NY.”

Assemblyman Nick Perry said: “The working people of New York are fortunate to have a Governor who understands how vital a thriving middle class is to economic growth. I commend the Governor for being a fighter for New York’s fast food and tipped workers, and for all New Yorkers as he launches the Mario Cuomo Economic Justice Campaign. I am excited to help make this proposal become law.”

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said: “Millions of hard-working New Yorkers are unable to pay for basic necessities like food, clothing, rent, and utilities – because it is impossible to support oneself on our current minimum wage. No one who works full-time should have to live in poverty. It’s why I am proud to stand with Vice President Biden and Governor Cuomo in supporting a $15 minimum wage. By putting more money in the pockets of hardworking New Yorkers, we can uplift working families and build a stronger middle-class.”

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said: “Governor Cuomo’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per-hour is a bold statement that New York is committed to increasing economic opportunity for all of its residents. New York has a long and proud progressive legacy of fighting for workers, but today, we have one of the lowest minimum wages in the country. A $15 per-hour minimum wage would put billions of dollars into the pockets of working families who need it the most. Let’s get this done!”

Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU, said: “Governor Cuomo’s action today shows that when working people stick together and speak up they can win victories to improve their families’ lives. Today’s victory will put money into the hands of working moms and dads, so they can put more money back into our communities. Our momentum is growing and we’re going to keep on fighting until every underpaid worker across this country wins wages on which they can raise a family and can join together to form a union and have a voice at work.”

Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU, said: “Today is one for the history books: thousands of fast food workers have been heard, and hundreds of thousands more have a path forward with a powerful champion. We applaud Governor Cuomo for continuing New York’s proud tradition of leading the way on progressive issues, and look forward to working with the Governor and elected representatives across the state to raise working men and women and their families out of a life of struggling to make ends meet. We know that when working people come together to stand up for themselves, their families and their communities, everyone wins. We are confident that New York will pave the way and be the first to raise the minimum wage to $15 so that everyone has a real chance for a successful future.”

George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said: “In his bold call to raise the minimum wage to $15, the Governor is continuing his fight to ensure fairness and opportunity for all hard-working New Yorkers. Our home care members, who struggle to support their families while caring for our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and all of New York’s healthcare workers are very grateful to the Governor for championing their cause.”

Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, said: “Serena Williams isn’t the only one going for a Grand Slam this week. To put it mildly, Gov. Cuomo’s $15 minimum wage proposal is a game changing, home run for workers. Once again, New York is leading a national movement for economic justice and a path forward for our country.”

Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, said: “Today’s dramatic action to increase the minimum wage to $15 for fast food workers, is the first step in addressing income inequality. We commend the Governor for his leadership in tackling the defining issue of our day, and look forward to working with him to raise wages for workers in all sectors across this state. A higher wage not only helps to lift workers out of poverty, it sends the right message that dignity and respect in the workplace begins with a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said: “Under Governor Cuomo, New York State has continually been at the forefront of progressive change. Raising the minimum wage to $15 for fast food workers is another example of that legacy, and it is a tremendous leap in achieving economic justice for New Yorkers—but we still have more work to do. Today, we are sending the message that we will continue fighting so that that we can all rise together. Every New Yorker deserves to earn a better wage, so during the upcoming legislative session I will stand with Governor Cuomo and the Mario Cuomo Economic Justice Campaign to raise the minimum wage statewide.”

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW, said: “It’s time to raise up our communities, our state, and our nation with higher wages; it’s time to build a better economy that strengthens all working people and all families, not just the wealthy elite. Today’s announcement for FF workers is an important win for working people. The next step has to be including retail and other workers. So, listen up Albany: now is the moment to do what is right for all working people.”

Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said: “As the cost of living in New York City continues to increase, it is imperative that all workers receive the middle class wages that will allow them to pay for housing, care for families, and invest in their local communities. We applaud the Governor for taking this action. The New York City Labor Movement will continue to stand up to ensure that our government creates an economy that works for all, and that all of New York City’s workers receive the wages they so desperately need and deserve.”

Cynthia DiBartolo, Chairperson of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, said: “I am proud to join Governor Cuomo in the Mario Cuomo Economic Justice Campaign to give hard-working New Yorkers the boost they deserve, growing the middle class and strengthening our state’s economy. Governor Cuomo is leading the nation in this charge, and I am proud to stand with him to raise the minimum wage.”

Keith Mestrich, President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, said: “Amalgamated Bank enthusiastically supports Governor Cuomo’s leadership in the minimum wage issue. Our bank was the first financial institution to embrace a $15/hour minimum wage for our own employees and we think that the same standard should apply to all workers in New York State.”

Jonathan Westin, Director of New York Communities for Change, said: “It’s no secret that no one can survive in New York making less than $15/hr. Today, we are proud to stand with Governor Cuomo as he vows to raise the wage next legislative session. New Yorkers deserve a chance to achieve better opportunities to support themselves and their families, and we are confident the Mario Cuomo Economic Justice Campaign can finally provide them with the dignity they deserve. We look forward to fighting alongside the Governor to make this proposal a reality.”

Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said: “Today is a day of celebration for fast food workers, and an important leap forward in the fight to win the compensation that all of New York’s working families deserve – in all sectors and around the state. We thank Governor Cuomo today and look forward to working alongside him to transform this vision into a reality.”

Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said: “Too many New Yorkers are forced to depend on public support despite their hard work and dedication to their one, two or even three jobs. The Governor’s commitment to raising the minimum is a clear sign that he stands for what is right in this city – and will do what it takes to deliver for New Yorkers across the state. I commend him and thank him for taking bold action to lift New Yorkers who deserve it most.”

Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, said: “For decades, flat wages have kept hard working New Yorkers struggling just to meet their family’s basic needs. Governor Cuomo responded today to the voices of fast food workers by guaranteeing fair wages. If he succeeds in expanding this victory to a $15 statewide minimum wage, Governor Cuomo will be ensuring that all jobs in our state are economy-boosting jobs by ending poverty wages.”

Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City and chair of the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force, said: “One in five adults on a food pantry or soup kitchen line in New York City has a job – that’s almost 200,000 New Yorkers who are working but not earning enough to provide for themselves and their families. While a minimum wage hike may feel like a difficult decision to small businesses and charities, it is a good decision as low wages are a major cause of food insecurity. We commend Governor Cuomo’s leadership to address a key root cause of hunger with a proposal to help our state’s most vulnerable families.”

Paul Sonn, General Counsel of the National Employment Law Project, said: “With this bold action, Governor Cuomo today sets a standard for how leaders across America should respond to the ongoing wage crisis that is leaving millions of working families behind, even as the economy continues to recover and corporate profits and CEO compensation soar. As NELP documented just last week, real wages have declined across all jobs over the past five years, but workers who are paid the least have been hurt the most. The governor is taking an important step to address these wage declines for New Yorkers. We call on the state legislature to move quickly and affirmatively in answering his call. And we urge leaders across the nation to follow suit.” 

To view the original article, click here.