On Nov. 15, Raise Up NY, Senate Labor Chair Jessica Ramos, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Comptroller Brad Lander gathered to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Fight for $15 with a rally at City Hall, and to launch a new campaign for a $21 minimum wage for New York.
The coalition, known as Raise Up NY, which includes workers, labor unions, community organizations, and businesses, demanded that the New York State legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul act swiftly to raise New York State’s minimum wage, which has eroded dramatically in recent years as the cost of living has spiraled. Following a heated gubernatorial race defined by voters’ economic concerns, the popular legislation could prove to be the major issue heading into the state’s 2023 budget and legislative sessions.
“The Fight for 15 continues to inspire workers here in New York and around the country,” said Senate Labor Chair Ramos. “But its historic gains are evaporating as rents and costs skyrocket. We’re now at the point that Fresno and Yakima have higher minimum wages than New York State––it’s unacceptable for a state with such pride in our worker protections and such a high cost of living. We can’t leave New Yorkers behind. After last week’s election results, it’s clear that we need to lead with bold economic vision by restore New York’s minimum wage to reflect the true cost of living, and then guarantee automatic annual increases so we don’t have to fight tooth and nail every few years to catch the wage back up.”
Raise Up NY came together to fight for legislation (S3062D/A7503C—bill numbers are subject to change pending re-introduction) introduced by Senator Ramos and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. If passed, the legislation would catch New York’s minimum wage back up to where it would have been if it had been adjusted each year since 2019 to keep up with rising prices and worker productivity gains. That translates to raising the wage to $21.25 by 2026. After that, it would automatically adjust the wage each year so that it wouldn’t fall behind again. And while upstate New York never made it to $15 an hour under the last compromise minimum wage deal, Raise Up NY’s proposed legislation would catch all of the state up to the same wage level by 2027.
Record rising prices are causing the real value of New York’s minimum wage to plummet across the state as consumers struggle with the rapidly rising cost of necessities. In New York City, its value has already fallen more than 15% and is projected to fall an additional 15% by 2027. This steep decline is reversing the historic reductions in poverty and earnings inequality that the state achieved with the $15 minimum wage.