At a Thursday labor rally in Manhattan with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he will soon submit a proposal for a $15 state-wide hourly minimum wage for all workers, and that New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino has issued a wage order mandating that fast food chains operating more than 30 locations nationwide pay New York workers a $15 per hour minimum wage.
According to NBC New York, fast food restaurants in New York City must comply with the rule within three years, and restaurants in other locations around the state are required to meet that minimum wage within six years.
During his speech at Thursday’s rally, which can be seen in its entirety in the above-embedded video, Governor Cuomo said, “A study was released just this week that showed there is not a single neighborhood in New York City that is affordable to someone earning the minimum wage. So several months ago, we empaneled a wage board to study the minimum wage of fast food workers… they recommended a wage of $15 an hour. That recommendation went to New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino, and I am pleased to announce today that the state of New York’s labor department has accepted the wage board recommendation in full, and 150,000 fast-food workers will see their wages rise to $15 an hour!”
Albany-based Associated Press reporter David Klepper wrote, “New York’s increase was recommended by an unelected Wage Board created by Cuomo — a tactic that allowed the governor to circumvent the Legislature, where the Republican-led Senate has blocked big increases in recent years.”
“By executive fiat, with the stroke of a pen, our financial model goes to pot,” said Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Ben & Jerry’s franchise owner Pat Pipino. Franchise owners in the state say that the way the order was written unfairly disadvantages them as other non-franchised small businesses will not have to comply with the rule.
Governor Cuomo tapped into an archaic, 63-year-old law in order to mandate a fast food minimum wage hike without first seeking a vote by the New York State Legislature. In a May op-ed for The New York Times in which he announced his intention to change the fast food minimum wage by executive order, Cuomo described the authority in that law that he would go on to claim, “State law empowers the labor commissioner to investigate whether wages paid in a specific industry or job classification are sufficient to provide for the life and health of those workers — and, if not, to impanel a Wage Board to recommend what adequate wages should be.”
Last Thursday, N.Y. State Senate Republicans held a hearing questioning the process behind the fast food minimum wage hike. At the hearing, State Senator Jim Seward (R-Cooperstown) said that he is worried about “the image that will project across the country because there’s always a concern that if we make our state less attractive that will impact the opportunities that workers have here if there’s no investment.”
Fast food restaurant owners in the state are reportedly considering mounting a legal challenge against the minimum wage hike.