As part of a “day of action”, advocates of a minimum wage hike plan to deliver more than 25,000 petitions supporting the raise to Senate coalition leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos. The event is being organized by a coalition of labor unions, faith groups and community advocates, and will include a rally at the Capitol in the morning and a prayer vigil.
“The day of action” coincides with the release of a report commissioned by the Fiscal Policy Institute and the National Employment Law Project that illustrates the economic benefits to raising the minimum wage to $8.75, the number floated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State speech and again during his state budget address last week.
“Minimum wage jobs are becoming more and more central to New York’s economy,” said Paul Sonn, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project. “During the recession we lost a lot of mid and high-wage occupations, now the jobs that are growing fastest are the low-wage jobs. The minimum wage sets the pay scale in those jobs and it’s making having a decent minimum wage more and more important for the well being of New Yorkers.”
Business groups argue that raising the minimum wage results in fewer jobs, but Sonn said that raising the minimum wage would inject more than a billion dollars into the state’s economy by putting money in workers’ pockets that they would then likely spend at local businesses. He said that groups like the Retail Council of New York State acknowledge this benefit and the fact that it would help tepid retail sales, but would still prefer a slower minimum wage hike.
The minimum wage coalition plans to continue to pressure the Legislature for action on the raise through grassroots mobilization, with more events in Albany likely.