From the RSDSU
Why a Higher Minimum Wage is Needed in New York
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum made the following statement at a press conference in Albany today to announce minimum wage legislation:
I’m Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). I’m proud to be here today with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and members of the Assembly.
The minimum wage in New York has not been raised in several years, but minimum wage workers are paying more for food, shelter, and other basic necessities. When wages don’t keep pace with rising costs and prices, survival becomes more and more difficult. That’s the predicament countless New Yorkers find themselves in today.
It’s all but impossible to get by on $7.25 per hour, the current minimum wage. Too many low-wage workers, particularly in retail, one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, are struggling to survive.
This is unfair and unacceptable. We’re here to say something significant needs to be done about it during this legislative session.
A broad coalition of labor unions, community organizations and the Working Families Party is supporting the Assembly to raise the minimum wage this year. The RWDSU is an active member of this coalition. We see this effort as the logical and necessary extension of the living wage movement we built in New York City-a movement that led recently to a landmark victory for low-wage workers.
The legislation being introduced today is a small but important step that will help forge a path out of poverty toward the middle class.
Raising the minimum wage in New York is morally right and economically smart: when workers earn more, they spend more, generating demand for new goods and services that will create more jobs and strengthen our economy. When workers are stronger, so are businesses and so are the communities in which we live and work.
New Yorkers need a wage-led recovery from the recession. It’s time to transform economic vulnerability into economic security. This legislation tells low-wage New Yorkers they are not invisible or forgotten, and that government can improve their lives.
STATEMENT FROM BOROUGH PRESIDENT DIAZ
“I strongly support Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Member Keith Wright and the entire New York State Assembly in their proposal to raise the State’s minimum wage to $ 8.50 an hour. If passed, this bill will represent a positive step towards changing the life of working families in our City.
“Both the Assembly bill and the ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act,’ our bill that would mandate employers pay a living wage when their projects receive heavy taxpayer subsidies, work together toward the common goal of improving the quality of life of New York City residents. A little extra money in the pocket of these struggling families will help keep them afloat by putting food on the table, keeping the heat on through the winter, and paying the rent. Our State Legislature has not voted to raise the minimum wage since 2004. As a result, New York's minimum wage is stagnant at just $7.25 an hour, around $15,000 a year for those who work full-time.
“In a high-cost state like ours, trying to support a family on such a low salary is nearly impossible. That is why I believe it is time to for New York to raise the minimum wage,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.