Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined a throng of union workers and other supporters of a $15 minimum wage in lower Manhattan on Tuesday and formally announced he would be using his executive authority to make sure it went up for at least one group of workers — state employees.
“This issue is very simple,” he told the cheering crowd. “This is about basic fairness and basic justice.”
Cuomo’s announcement came on a day of nationwide protests and rallies, as fast-food workers and other low-wage workers called for the $15 wage and for the right to unionize.
Cuomo said New York would “lead by example” and would use taxpayer dollars to establish a public-sector minimum wage. The increase will impact about 10,000 state workers, with about 1,000 in New York City. These include office assistants, custodial workers and lifeguards.
There are 277,622 active employees on the state payroll. The increase will be phased in over time, with city workers seeing the increase to $15 by the end of 2018 and upstate workers getting there by July 2021.
Business groups have estimated that a $15 wage would devastate small businesses and lead to higher prices.