All NYC Fast-Food Workers Will Earn $15 an Hour by 2018

New York City's more than 63,000 fast-food workers will earn at least $15 an hour by December 31, 2018, per a resolution passed Wednesday by a state Fast Food Wage Board. By July 1, 2021, all 180,000 of the state's fast-food workers will earn at least $15 an hour.

$15 Wage Increase Schedules:

For New York City:
$10.50 on December 31, 2015
$12 on December 31, 2016
$13.50 on December 31, 2017
$15 on December 31, 2018

For New York State:
$9.75 on December 31, 2015
$10.75  on December 31, 2016
$11.75  on December 31, 2017
$12.75 on December 31, 2018
$13.75 on December 31, 2019
$14.50 on December 31, 2020
$15 on July 1, 2021

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The announcement by the wage board in Lower Manhattan is the end result of a campaign that began with worker strikes in November 2012 and included a one-day strike in April 2013, when hundreds of fast-food workers walked off the job in the city, one of the first major acts in the Fight for $15 movement. Fight for $15 later spread to cities nationwide.

"The fast-food industry growth rate is lower outside New York City than it is inside New York City, and the fast-food establishments in New York City tend to have to have more customers, so they have a higher throughput, which allows them to pay more and differentiate New York City from the rest of the state," said board member Kevin Ryan about separating the rest of the state from the city. "We wanted to pay careful attention to industry concerns, which is why we are not moving to $15 immediately."

On May 7, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed the wage board to investigate whether fast-food workers needed to be paid more. The day before, the New York Times published an op-ed by Cuomo where he reminded readers that the legislature rejected his proposal to raise the minimum wage in the city to $11.50 an hour ($10.50 an hour outside the city), which was part of the reason he empaneled the board. He also took a broad swipe at the fast-food industry:

Nowhere is the income gap more extreme and obnoxious than in the fast-food industry. Fast-food C.E.O.s are among the highest-paid corporate executives. The average fast-food C.E.O. made $23.8 million in 2013, more than quadruple the average from 2000 (adjusting for inflation). Meanwhile, entry-level food-service workers in New York State earn, on average, $16,920 per year, which at a 40-hour week amounts to $8.50 an hour. Nationally, wages for fast-food workers have increased 0.3 percent since 2000 (again, adjusting for inflation).

Minimum wage in New York is currently $8.75 an hour and will increase to $9 on December 31 — with the exception of fast-food workers.

Speaking with supporters after the wage board meeting on Wednesday, Cuomo told them, loudly: 

"It is repugnant to the concept of a minimum wage to say a $9 wage is what we had in mind.

"You cannot live and support a family in the state of New York on $18,000 a year — that's why we have to increase the minimum wage."

Cuomo's administration didn't ever formally adopt the "Fight for $15" slogan, instead going with "Fight for Fair Pay," the rallies for which included Bon Jovi:

The wage board was empaneled by acting commissioner of labor Mario J. Musolino at the direction of Cuomo, who's expected to approve the measure. The recommendations by the board are not subject to legislative approval. The board, which met at the state Department of Health building at 90 Church Street, comprised: 

  • Byron Brown, mayor of Buffalo, representing the public;
  • Kevin Ryan, chairman and founder of Gilt, MongoDB, Business Insider, and Zola and vice chairman of the Partnership for New York City, representing businesses;
  • Mike Fishman, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, representing labor.

The three recommendations by the wage board (increases for the city and the state, and defining who's eligible) will be posted at labor.ny.gov/fastfoodwageboard.

The measure only grants a $15 wage to fast-food workers, who in New York earn on average $16,920 annually. Across the country, both the city of Los Angeles and L.A. County approved moves to a $15-an-hour wage by 2021.

[nlucchesi@villagevoice.com][@nicklucchesi]
Video by Ana M. Rodriguez


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