As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was raising the minimum wage for workers at city-subsidized projects, women leaders rallied on Long Island on Tuesday to call for lawmakers to increase the state’s minimum wage.
New York State’s minimum wage is $8 an hour, while organizers want it raised to $10.10 an hour and to authorize cities and counties to supplement wages up to 30 percent.
The State’s minimum wage is due to increase to $8.75 in December 2014, and then to $9.00 by December 2015. Wages for tipped workers will go from $3.00 to $3.75 by December 2014, and up to $4.00 in 2015 but these amounts are much lower than the $10.10 women leaders asked for on Tuesday.
“A raise in the minimum wage, with local wage authorization, is just and necessary. It is absolutely vital because it would permit us and those who depend on us to live a more dignified life here on Long Island,” said Janet Farfan, member of Make the Road New York.
Cities and states are considering minimum wage increases. Seattle adopted $15 minimum wage in June, and 13 states and 4 cities have made their own adjustments while changes in the federal minimum wage remain stagnant because of Congressional resistance.
“Anyone working 40 hours a week should not be living poverty, especially hard-working single mothers,” State Senate candidate Adrienne Esposito said outside the Suffolk County Legislature Building in Hauppauge.
Many minimum wage earners working for large corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s are paid as little as possible which is why fast food workers have been organizing and regularly protesting across the U.S. demanding minimum wage hikes to $15.
In 2013 a couple hundred fast food workers walked off their jobs in New York demanding a raise to $15 an hour. Thee one-day strike, helped along by unions and other grassroots groups, eventually spread to 150 cities. In New York those workers account for 3 million men and women and the majority are living in poverty and relying on federal benefits to survive, if they are eligible.
Statistically two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and about 70 percent of restaurant servers are women, as are about 60 percent of all bartenders, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Women of color account for 22 percent of minimum wage earners, and three out four of them are 20 or older and do not have a spouse for additional income. A minimum wage hike would put more money in the pockets of 15 million women across the U.S.
“Women’s wages play a critical role in families and in our local and regional economies. When women succeed, families and communities grow stronger,” said Esposito.
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