'Chalk One Up for the 99%-ers' in NY

Fast-food workers win 'Fight for $15'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2015 1:12 AM CDT
Activists cheer during a rally after the New York wage board endorsed a proposal to set a $15 minimum wage for workers at fast-food restaurants with 30 or more locations.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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(Newser) – They fought for $15—and they won. In what advocates say is a huge victory for the "99%-ers," New York state's wage board has recommended that the minimum wage for fast-food workers be gradually hiked to $15 from the current $8.75 over the next few years, reports the New York Times, which notes that the nationwide fight for higher wages in the industry kicked off in New York City and has already succeeded in cities such as Los Angeles and Seattle. The board's recommendation, which applies to chains with more than 30 restaurants nationwide, calls for an increase to $15 in New York City by the end of 2018 and the rest of the state by the middle of 2021, the New York Daily News reports.

The proposal—which is believed to be the first time a state has raised the minimum wage for a single industry—is almost certain to be approved by the state labor board, and it's expected to lead to pay raises in other industries and other states, the Times reports. "When New York acts, the rest of the states follow," says Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "We've always been different, always been first, always been the most progressive." The wage board approved the proposal after hearings in which fast-food workers described how much they had to do without to make ends meet in New York on $8.75 an hour, reports the Nation. (A recent study estimated that low wages cost the US taxpayer $153 billion a year.)

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