Public Hearing - June 02, 2014

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       2      ------------------------------------------------------

       3                         PUBLIC HEARING


       5       S.4919, S.5914, S.6455, S.6516, S.6537, and A.8767

       6      ------------------------------------------------------

       7                       Legislative Office Building
                               Van Buren Hearing Room A - 2nd Floor
       8                       181 State Street
                               Albany, New York
                               June 2, 2014
      10                       10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

                 Senator Diane J. Savino
      13         Chairwoman


      15      PRESENT:

      16         Senator Jose R. Peralta (RM)

      17         Senator Bill Perkins

      18         Senator Gustavo Rivera

      19         Senator James Sanders, Jr.

      20         Senator Daniel Squadron

      21         Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh






              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Ken Jacobs                                12      51
       3      Chair
              UC Berkeley Center for
       4           Labor Research and Education

       5      Valerie Ervin                             12      51
              Former Member of the
       6           Montgomery County Council
              Currently, Executive Director at
       7           Center for Working Families

       8      Erik Retting                              12      51
              Northeast Outreach Manager
       9      Small Business Majority (SBM)

      10      Mike Kink                                 12      51
              Executive Director
      11      Strong Economy for All Coalition

      12      Tsedeye Gebreselassie                     12      51
              Staff Attorney
      13      National Employment Law Project

      14      Paul Sonn                                 12      51
              General Counsel
      15      National Employment Law Project

      16      FAST-FOOD WORKERS:

      17      Whitney Charles                           98     114
              Alfredo Franco                            98     114
      18      Frankie Tisdale                           98     114
              Selena Alvarez [ph.]                     125
      19      Gajaimo Orgega [ph.]                     125

      20      CLERGY:

      21      Reverend Que English                      98
              Bronx Christian Fellowship
              Elizabeth Glassanos                       98
      23      Coordinator
              FOCUS Churches of Albany

      25                            ---oOo---


       1             SENATOR SAVINO:  We are awaiting

       2      Senator Peralta.

       3             And, we want to make sure we have everyone

       4      who's participating or testifying.  Make sure you

       5      have your name on the list, or see my trusty

       6      assistant.

       7             I say this all the time, but then people go

       8      ahead and read the whole thing:  If we can get to

       9      potential questions, because I think that's what

      10      we'll want to hear.

      11             Let's wait a few minutes.

      12             Talk a amongst yourselves, and we'll get

      13      started very soon.

      14             Thank you.

      15                  [Pause in the proceeding.]

      16                  [The hearing resumed, as follows:]

      17             SENATOR SAVINO:  We're having a bicameral

      18      hearing this morning.  We're being joined by

      19      Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh.

      20             Senator Peralta has arrived, and so we're

      21      going to get started with this hearing on -- there's

      22      several pieces --

      23             First of all, I'm Senator Diane Savino.

      24      I represent the 23rd Senate District, which is

      25      South Brooklyn and parts of Staten Island.


       1             And I am the current Chair of the Senate

       2      Labor Committee.

       3             And currently in the Labor Committee there

       4      are several pieces of legislation that address the

       5      issues of minimum wage, local control of minimum

       6      wage, or raising the minimum wage above what is

       7      currently the state minimum.

       8             So in an effort to kind of shed some light on

       9      some of these issues, we thought it was a good idea

      10      to hold a hearing here of the Senate Labor

      11      Committee, to examine the different bills that are

      12      currently before us, and see if we can arrive at a

      13      way to define what should be the proper floor for

      14      the state of New York, including its various

      15      localities, and what can we do to make sure that

      16      that floor does not become that ceiling.

      17             It is no mystery to anyone that I have always

      18      believed very strongly in the labor movement.

      19             I believe the union movement is the best way

      20      to improve terms and conditions for employees.  And

      21      organizing should always be one of our ultimate

      22      goals as we examine labor, wage, and hour policy.

      23             So with that being said, I'm going to

      24      introduce my colleague Senator Peralta, who's going

      25      to make an opening statement, followed then by


       1      Senator Bill Perkins, and Senator Gustavo Rivera.

       2             I have reminded them all, we only have the

       3      room till noon, and we really want to hear what you

       4      guys have to say.

       5             But, take it away.

       6             SENATOR PERALTA:  Thank you, Senator Savino.

       7             As a Ranking Member of the Labor Committee,

       8      I'm happy to be here today to participate in this

       9      incredibly important forum.

      10             The issue that we're discussing today is

      11      whether the State should give local governments the

      12      authority to set a higher minimum wage within their

      13      own boundaries.

      14             I'm going to start today's hearing by noting

      15      that we shouldn't need to have this discussion

      16      today, for two reasons:

      17             One, it's been just over a year since the

      18      State passed the minimum-wage hike into law in last

      19      year's budget, but this conversation remains all too

      20      necessary.

      21             Last year we adopted a minimum-wage increase,

      22      that over 3 years will get the minimum wage to $9 an

      23      hour.

      24             That's a lower and slower minimum-wage hike

      25      than many of the options that have been put forward


       1      by the Senate Democratic Conference, the Assembly

       2      Majority, and the Governor.

       3             At the same time, last year's minimum-wage

       4      increase failed to raise the minimum wage for

       5      tip-workers, failed to provide automatic

       6      cost-of-living adjustments to the minimum-wage rate

       7      in the future, and even gave away millions of

       8      dollars to subsidize the minimum-wage hike for

       9      businesses that hire young employees, with a tax

      10      reimbursement.

      11             The other reasons we shouldn't need to have

      12      this conversation is that today's discussion is

      13      generally about empowering local communities to

      14      decide the minimum wage for their own borders.

      15             In a state with such a proud tradition of

      16      home rule, it's an unfortunate happenstance that the

      17      court of appeals determined in the 1960s that

      18      local governments cannot raise the minimum wage

      19      themselves.

      20             And let's be clear:

      21             Today's conversation isn't just about the

      22      minimum wage.

      23             It's even about whether local governments can

      24      set specific labor standards for contractors who

      25      benefit from local tax dollars.


       1             Last year, New York City's living-wage law,

       2      which applies only to certain contractors doing

       3      business with the City, was thrown into jeopardy by

       4      a State Supreme Court judge based on the same

       5      1964 case.

       6             It's for both of these reasons that the

       7      legislation we're discussing today is so important.

       8             Empowering local governments to set the

       9      minimum wage within their own borders will promote

      10      broader labor protections, raise the living

      11      standards of millions of New Yorkers, and ensure

      12      that political gridlock in Albany doesn't get in the

      13      way of a raise for hard-working low-wage workers,

      14      some who are here today.

      15             If enacted, the legislation in front of us

      16      today would give 3 million low-wage workers a raise,

      17      a real raise, compared to last year's deal.

      18             And this legislation has the added benefit of

      19      giving the state flexibility to set different

      20      standards that take into account the 43 percent

      21      difference in the cost of living between the least

      22      and most expensive parts of our state.

      23             I know that I speak on behalf of the members

      24      of the Senate Democratic Conference when I say that

      25      we support this proposal, and look forward to


       1      providing the votes necessary for its passage.

       2             I'm happy to be a part of today's discussion,

       3      and I'll be listening closely to our esteemed

       4      panelists.

       5             Thank you very much.

       6                  [Applause.]

       7             SENATOR SAVINO:  Senator Perkins.

       8             SENATOR PERKINS:  Thank you very much.

       9             I want to especially thank you,

      10      Senator Savino and Senator Peralta for convening us

      11      today.

      12             It's a very, very important occasion, and I'm

      13      very pleased we are convened here today, because

      14      that means it's not too late to establish a

      15      living-wage rate and empower municipalities to

      16      establish minimum-wage standards that reflect local

      17      needs this session.

      18             I commend my colleagues in the

      19      Senate Democratic Conference, including

      20      Leader Stewart Cousins and Senator Squadron, for

      21      being absolute champions of thoughtful proposals

      22      that will allow for higher minimum wages at local

      23      option, independent of living wages by large,

      24      predominant, and well-heeled interests.

      25             This is one of those rare public-policy


       1      discussions that not only feels right in your head

       2      and your heart because you are empowering

       3      communities and practically helping to lift families

       4      out of poverty, but also makes sense with respect to

       5      the rationality and statistical demonstration.

       6             New York State Labor Law is clear.

       7             As a matter of public policy, it holds that,

       8      quote, employment of persons at sufficient rates of

       9      pay threatens the health -- insufficient rates of

      10      pay threatens the health and well-being of the

      11      people of this state, and injures the overall

      12      economy, end quote.

      13             The current minimum-wage ceiling constitutes

      14      an insufficient rate of pay for many, when reviewed

      15      in light of the overall cost of living, including

      16      the individuals who I represent in the

      17      30th Senatorial District.

      18             Furthermore, I would argue that the current

      19      minimum wage also -- is also insufficient in other

      20      areas of the state, represented on the dais here

      21      today, including Brooklyn, Staten Island, Syracuse,

      22      Rochester, Long Island, and Queens.

      23             Establishment of a living wage with regard to

      24      certain sectors of our economy, married with local

      25      control over minimum wages across our state, is a


       1      broad and equitable approach that will forever end

       2      the current cannibalization of low-wage workers in

       3      the Empire State by greedy corporate interests.

       4             Thank you.

       5                  [Applause.]

       6             SENATOR SAVINO:  Senator Rivera.

       7             SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you, Senator Savino.

       8             I represent a district in the Bronx, the

       9      33rd District.  It has about 318,000 people.  The

      10      median income is about $25,000 a year in 2014.

      11             I am very glad that we're having this

      12      conversation.

      13             I'm very glad that I'm here with my

      14      colleagues in the Democratic Conference who have

      15      always stood up to a -- for a robust minimum wage.

      16             And I'm looking forward to an evidence-based

      17      discussion, since there's always -- we are always

      18      accused of just being this far-left fringe that

      19      speaks without knowing.

      20             And this is why it's very important to have

      21      folks that do know what they're talking about.

      22             Maybe we don't; but, certainly, you do.

      23             So I am looking forward to hearing from you,

      24      from hearing from the workers here, and, most

      25      importantly, fighting to make sure we can get this


       1      done this year.

       2             Thank you.

       3                  [Applause.]

       4             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

       5             We're going to proceed with our first panel.

       6             Before us on the policy panel are:

       7             Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at

       8      University of California;

       9             Valerie Ervin, served on the

      10      Montgomery County, City of Maryland;

      11             Erik Retting, northeast outreach manager of

      12      Small Business Majority;

      13             Michael Kink, executive director of the

      14      Strong Economy For All Coalition, and, many other

      15      endeavors;

      16             Tsedeye --

      17             I can never say your last name.

      18             -- Gebreselassie, staff attorney at the

      19      National Employment Law Project;

      20             And, Paul Sonn, general counsel at the

      21      National Employment Law Project.

      22             So I guess we will start with Ken.

      23             MICHAEL KINK:  Sorry, Senator.

      24             Tsedeye and I, we're going to present a brief

      25      PowerPoint first.


       1             SENATOR SAVINO:  Oh, okay.

       2             MICHAEL KINK:  Sorry if it wasn't clear.

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  So then we'll start with

       4      Tsedeye, and Michael Kink, first.

       5             Take it away.

       6             MICHAEL KINK:  Thank you so much, Senator,

       7      for the opportunity to testify here.

       8             We're happy that you will be able to hear

       9      from experts, from faith leaders, from workers

      10      themselves, on this effort to use both public-sector

      11      and private-sector power to raise wages for workers,

      12      with a combination of government action and

      13      unionizing action.

      14             It's one of the most exciting things that's

      15      happened in a long time in this area, and we're

      16      happy to be here in Albany to talk about it.

      17             The fact that we're dealing with here is that

      18      New York has the worst income inequality in the

      19      country.  We have the biggest division between the

      20      rich and the poor of any other state.

      21                  [PowerPoint presentation begins.]

      22             MICHAEL KINK:  And, if you look at the shift

      23      in just the last several decades, we've seen a

      24      dramatic increase in incomes for the top 1 percent,

      25      while the bottom half of the population has actually


       1      gone backwards.

       2             We're also dealing with the fact that the

       3      New York economy is only growing low-wage jobs.

       4             Net, you know, this is the only area where

       5      jobs are growing.

       6             We're losing high-wage jobs, we're losing

       7      medium-wage jobs, but we are gaining low-wage jobs.

       8             So we're proud that the New York economy is

       9      gaining jobs, but the types of jobs that we're

      10      gaining often don't people -- pay people enough to

      11      get out of poverty.

      12             One in three workers now in New York is

      13      working in low-wage jobs.

      14             Women have been hit harder by this low-wage

      15      economy.  They're a majority of low-wage workers,

      16      they're a majority of fast-food workers.  And women

      17      workers are 30 percent more likely than men to be

      18      paid low wages.

      19             There's a lot of reasons for that, but the

      20      fact is, that's the economy that we have right now.

      21             Low-wage workers are also no longer

      22      teenagers.  Right?

      23             That is a popular impression.

      24             The fact is, that more and more adults are

      25      working low-wage and fast-food jobs.


       1             70 percent of fast-food workers are the main

       2      earners for their families.

       3             2.8 million adult New Yorkers work low-wage

       4      jobs, and that's a lot of folks that need support.

       5             The bigger picture here is that we have

       6      corporate profits at an 85-year high and worker

       7      wages at a 65-year low.

       8             So, the economy is generating a lot of money

       9      for corporations.  Right?

      10             We've all seen corporations sitting on

      11      multi-billion-dollar pools of profits.

      12             McDonald's last year made $6.3 billion, one

      13      company.

      14             Workers, on the other hand, are barely

      15      getting by or going backwards.

      16             We've also seen taxpayer subsidies directly

      17      to these companies.

      18             We did a report with other researchers from

      19      UC Berkeley last summer that showed that New York

      20      taxpayers are spending $700 million a year on

      21      supports for fast-food workers alone.

      22             There's a lot of other categories of low-wage

      23      workers; but, specifically, for the fast-food

      24      industry: McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Wendy's.

      25             You saw the stories about McDonald's


       1      encouraging their workers to apply for food stamps.

       2             That is subsidized by New York taxpayers to

       3      the tune of $700 million a year.

       4             Now, the bosses in these big companies are

       5      doing very well.

       6             Right?

       7             Fast-food CEOs are among the highest-paid

       8      workers in America.  Their average pay is

       9      $23 million a year, and their pay has gone up

      10      400 percent since the year 2000.

      11             Fast-food workers are among the lowest-paid

      12      workers in America.  Their average pay is about

      13      9 bucks an hour, and it's gone up .3 percent since

      14      2000.

      15             Right?

      16             So the CEOs have gone up 400 percent in the

      17      last 14 years.  The workers have stayed flat.

      18             We saw the 50th anniversary of the March on

      19      Washington last summer.  They were marching for a

      20      $2.00 minimum wage, which was subsequently achieved.

      21             That would be $13.39 today.

      22             That's what Dr. Martin Luther King, that's

      23      what the leaders of unions from around the country,

      24      were fighting for.

      25             We have always been working -- unions,


       1      faith leaders, community groups, workers

       2      themselves -- for the kind of wage that will lift

       3      people out of poverty.

       4             And that what's we're fighting for today.

       5             So, I think I'll turn it over to

       6      Tsedeye Gebreselassie to talk in more detail about

       7      our philosophy.

       8                  [Applause.]

       9             TSEDEYE GEBRESELASSIE, ESQ.:  Thanks, Mike.

      10             So not only -- just to continue directly off

      11      of what Mike was saying, not only are higher minimum

      12      wages crucial in this economic environment that's

      13      characterized by stagnant and declining wages and

      14      this explosion in low-wage job growth, they're also

      15      immensely popular.  They're the most popular

      16      political policy that you can think of, with strong

      17      majorities, including Republicans, in support of

      18      raising the minimum wage.

      19             But despite all this; despite the economic

      20      need for it, despite the popularity of it, minimum

      21      wage increases continue to be very difficult to win

      22      both on the federal and state level.

      23             Before the last increase that was -- the

      24      much-welcome increase that was passed in New York

      25      last year in the state's minimum wage, the last time


       1      the State voted to raise the minimum wage was in

       2      2004.  So it was a very long time.

       3             And on the federal level, the minimum wage

       4      has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, which means that

       5      every year that goes by, workers are, effectively,

       6      seeing a pay cut because the cost of living is going

       7      up but the minimum wage is not.

       8             So the question for us now is:  How can we

       9      boost paychecks and raise wages in New York?

      10             And we think that one of the best ways to do

      11      it is to give localities across the state the power

      12      to enact minimum wages that are higher than the

      13      state level.

      14             It's something that's supported, not just by

      15      the economic evidence, as others on this panel will

      16      talk about in a second, but also broadly supported

      17      by the public all over the state in every region of

      18      the state.

      19             The consensus is that the statewide minimum

      20      wage should be a floor; it should not be a ceiling.

      21             And we've seen, I mean, there has been an

      22      explosion in activity on the state and local level

      23      to raise the minimum wage.

      24             My colleague Paul Sonn will talk a little bit

      25      about some of the campaigns that are happening right


       1      now.

       2             I just want to mention, Seattle, there's an

       3      "APPROVED" stamped over that because that city just

       4      finalized a deal last week to enact a $15-an-hour

       5      citywide minimum wage that will apply --

       6                  [Applause.]

       7             TSEDEYE GEBRESELASSIE, ESQ.:  That's right.

       8             That is just a year and a half after many of

       9      the workers in this room started to go on strike to

      10      demand better pay and higher wages.

      11             And it's happening in Seattle.

      12             We want it to happen in New York, but we are

      13      constrained, you know, under our current system.

      14             The other thing that I just wanted to point

      15      out is that, these local campaigns to raise the wage

      16      on the local level, they also have an effect on

      17      building momentum towards statewide increases.  And

      18      we've seen that happen in states that have used this

      19      power.

      20             In California, for example, San Jose became

      21      the most recent state [sic] to enact a city

      22      minimum-wage law back in 2012, to $10 an hour.  Just

      23      a year later, the state followed suit.

      24             In New Mexico, Albuquerque, back in 2006,

      25      which covers about 25 percent of the state, enacted


       1      a minimum wage of $7.50 an hour.

       2             A year later, the State went from $4.25, to

       3      $7.25, an hour.

       4             And I'll leave Maryland to my colleague

       5      Valerie who can talk about the effect of local

       6      minimum wage in the state of Maryland.

       7             So that's my final message:  It's time to

       8      raise the wage, and keep raising it everywhere

       9      across New York.

      10             Thank you.

      11                  [Applause.]

      12             SENATOR SAVINO:  So who wants to go next?

      13             Before you start, we're being joined by

      14      Senator James Sanders.

      15                  [Applause.]

      16             KEN JACOBS:  Thank you for inviting me today.

      17             I'm Ken Jacobs, the chair of the UC Berkeley

      18      Center for Labor Research and Education;

      19             And along with Michael Reich and

      20      Miranda Dietz, co-editor of the book "When Mandates

      21      Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level,"

      22      that looks at the empirical evidence about what's

      23      happened when local jurisdictions have both raised

      24      the minimum wage and done other labor-standards

      25      policy.


       1             This presentation draws both, from our book,

       2      and research we carried out from the city -- for the

       3      City of Seattle as they were in their deliberations.

       4             And I'm going to talk briefly about what

       5      cities and counties have done to date in setting

       6      local minimum-wage standards; the research of the

       7      impact on those laws, using mainly San Francisco as

       8      a case study; and finish with some lessons and

       9      conclusions.

      10             So, nine cities and counties have passed,

      11      across the board, minimum-wage laws to date.

      12             Another three have industry-targeted laws,

      13      generally in the hotel industry.

      14             And, Seattle's proposed $15-an-hour minimum

      15      wage, as mentioned, was passed out of committee last

      16      week, and will be voted on the full city council

      17      tonight.

      18             And laws are under consideration in a range

      19      of other cities, as mentioned.

      20             So what do we know about the impact of those

      21      laws?

      22             The oldest of the laws, San Francisco and

      23      Santa Fe, are fairly well-studied.

      24             So looking at San Francisco, you have, uhm --

      25      the minimum wage is currently $10.74 an hour.  But


       1      on top of that, there is an additional requirement

       2      for employers to meet minimum health-spending

       3      standards.

       4             So for large employers, that's $2.44 an hour.

       5             So the effective minimum compensation for a

       6      large employer in San Francisco, and that's 100 or

       7      more, is a little over $13 an hour.

       8             And California minimum wage is going up,

       9      overall, to -- San Francisco's minimum wage is

      10      currently 34 percent above the state.

      11             The state is going up to $10 an hour, and

      12      San Francisco is now discussing a higher increase.

      13             So if we look at the impact, the minimum-wage

      14      law has had its intended effect.  It's put

      15      $1.2 billion extra in the pockets of low-wage

      16      workers in San Francisco over the last decade.

      17             And this slide compares the earnings for the

      18      bottom 10 percent in San Francisco with the rest of

      19      the Bay Area counties.

      20             So what you see is, in 2003, earnings at the

      21      bottom 10 percent were the same in San Francisco as

      22      the rest of the Bay Area counties.

      23             In the rest of the Bay Area, as in the rest

      24      of the United States, wages at the bottom were

      25      stagnating, and then declined when the


       1      Great Recession hit.

       2             In San Francisco you can see, in 2004, after

       3      the law went into effect, raises at the bottom went

       4      up, and then they stayed up because of indexing.

       5             So by 2012 you have a large gap, as

       6      San Francisco went up and stayed there, and what's

       7      happened in the rest of the surrounding areas, in

       8      terms of wages for low-wage workers.

       9             So what happened to employment and the

      10      economy?

      11             If we look at overall employment in

      12      San Francisco and the surrounding areas, I don't

      13      have that slide, but the lines are very similar.

      14      The patterns follow very, very closely in terms of

      15      job creation in San Francisco and the surrounding

      16      counties.

      17             If we look at the restaurant industry where

      18      you have a high concentration of low-wage workers

      19      and labor is a relatively high share of total

      20      operating cost, that's employment in the surrounding

      21      counties in that period, and that's San Francisco.

      22             San Francisco actually goes up a little

      23      faster than the surrounding counties.

      24             In -- my colleagues have tested this data

      25      using a variety of methods and controls to check for


       1      various -- what could be causing this, and they came

       2      back with the same conclusion, that the minimum wage

       3      did not hurt employment or economic growth in

       4      San Francisco.

       5             And studies of Santa Fe have found similar

       6      results.

       7             And this really mirrors the national

       8      research.

       9             Colleagues at Berkeley and UMass Amherst

      10      looked over a 16-year period, across state border

      11      lines, because we found all these changes in state

      12      minimum wages.

      13             So they looked at the counties on either side

      14      of the border, and looked a restaurant growth, and

      15      said:  Okay, has there been any difference in

      16      employment growth across those county borders?

      17             And, so, this is all across the

      18      United States; and, again, they found the same

      19      results, that there's no measurable impact on

      20      employment.

      21             There's a massive new synthesis of the

      22      minimum-wage research over the last 20 years by

      23      Belman and Wolfson, and they said, again, effects of

      24      minimum wage on employment are vanishingly small and

      25      not statistically significant even in the most


       1      generous tests.

       2             So I think that's really how economists

       3      are -- more and more, are viewing the situation

       4      today.

       5             So how are costs absorbed?

       6             Right?

       7             If we don't affect employment, what does

       8      happen?

       9             One is -- and I'll go through this quickly,

      10      and then if there are questions, we can go into it.

      11             But, there is very strong evidence of -- that

      12      minimum wage has reduced turnover.  And, turnover is

      13      costly to employers.

      14             And, so, about 20 percent of the total costs

      15      of the minimum-wage increase is saved through the

      16      reduction in turnover and related costs.

      17             There's strong evidence on improved firm

      18      performance.

      19             We -- studies have found performance

      20      improvements in a range of areas, including worker

      21      performance, morale, customer service, absenteeism,

      22      lower grievances, better equipment maintenance, less

      23      equipment damage.

      24             That also has -- all of those have costs to

      25      employer -- and savings for employers.


       1             But, increase in minimum wages are partially

       2      passed through in the form of slightly higher

       3      prices.  And that's, mainly, you see it in the

       4      restaurant industry.  It's pretty negligible in

       5      other sectors.

       6             Generally, there was a study done by the

       7      Federal Reserve in Chicago, Aaronson [ph.], and

       8      found, every 10 percent increase in the minimum wage

       9      is about a .7 percent increase in restaurant prices.

      10             Pretty small.

      11             26 percent increase in the minimum wage in

      12      San Francisco led to a 2.8 percent increase in

      13      full-service restaurants.  A little more in

      14      limited-service restaurants.

      15             And then the final -- and the reason they can

      16      do that is, it's a rule that's across the board.

      17             A lot of restaurants say, Well, we won't be

      18      able to compete.

      19             But since everyone has to follow the same

      20      rules, they are able to pass through some of it in

      21      prices without suffering a competitive disadvantage.

      22             And then the evidence around profits is

      23      really unclear.  It hasn't been well-studied.

      24             We don't seem to see any impact on profits in

      25      the United States.


       1             They have seen some in England.

       2             So, in conclusion:

       3             Local minimum-wage laws are smart economic

       4      policies, in that they reflect the local economic

       5      diversity within states and address local economic

       6      needs.

       7             The appropriate minimum wage in New York City

       8      and in Utica just aren't going to be the same.

       9             And that's true with San Jose, California, in

      10      the Central Valley of California.

      11             Japan has long recognized this.  And there's

      12      a 30 percent higher minimum wage in Tokyo and Osaka

      13      than there are in many of the other areas of the

      14      country, because that reflects the differences in

      15      economic conditions and differences in costs.

      16             And, it's important to see that the local

      17      minimum wage is really a complement, not a

      18      substitute for state and national standards.

      19             So as mentioned earlier, after San Francisco

      20      and San Jose showed that a $10 minimum wage was

      21      workable, the State has now decided to increase to

      22      that level, and most cities are going up.

      23             And, so, I think that the general notion has

      24      been proposed recently, as I understand by the

      25      Governor, in terms of raising the state standard,


       1      $10.10, and indexing, while then allowing room for

       2      cities to move, that's smart economic policy.

       3             Local minimum-wage laws are an effective

       4      policy to improve the income of low-wage workers, as

       5      mentioned.  And they really do have their intended

       6      effects.

       7             And I think that's the important thing, in

       8      terms of really benefiting low- and middle-income

       9      families.

      10             And it's important to note that the wage

      11      stagnation and decline is not just a question for

      12      the lowest-wage workers.

      13             Sometimes we hear people say, Well, minimum

      14      wages are ill-targeted because not all the workers

      15      are in poverty.

      16             That's true, but, wages have stagnated or

      17      declined for the bottom 60 percent of workers in the

      18      United States in the last decade.

      19             So to the degree this also helps the

      20      middle-income families, that's also a positive

      21      economic outcome.

      22             And then, as noted, there's really no

      23      discernible effect on employment from these laws.

      24      And we discussed how they're -- how those costs are

      25      absorbed.


       1             So, that's the -- I'd be happy to answer any

       2      questions when we're all done.

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  When we get to the -- the

       4      rest of the panel, then we'll have questions for

       5      you.

       6                  [Applause.]

       7             SENATOR SAVINO:  Valerie.

       8             VALERIE ERVIN:  Thank you very much.

       9             Good morning, Chairwoman Savino and members

      10      of the Committee.

      11             Thank you for the opportunity to submit

      12      testimony this morning.

      13             I'm Valerie Ervin, and I'm a former two-term

      14      member of the Montgomery County Council, a home-rule

      15      county located outside of the District of Colombia

      16      in the state of Maryland.

      17             I'm also, currently, the executive director

      18      of the Center for Working Families.

      19             So I'm going to cut to the chase because

      20      many --

      21                  [Applause.]

      22             VALERIE ERVIN:  -- the speakers who have come

      23      before me have laid out the context for why we're

      24      here, and what I'm going to talk about is my

      25      experience as a legislator.


       1             So prior to the coming to the Center for

       2      Working Families this past January, I was one of

       3      three co-sponsors of a regional minimum-wage bill

       4      that covered Prince Georges County in Maryland;

       5      Montgomery County, also in Maryland; and the

       6      District of Columbia.

       7             The sponsors of the bills in all three of

       8      these jurisdictions believed this was our

       9      opportunity to move a working-family agenda forward

      10      because we knew that pending legislation at the

      11      federal level had almost no chance of moving ahead.

      12             And, so, while we shared in common -- what we

      13      shared in common was a higher cost of living in our

      14      area, that was a huge hurdle for working families.

      15             Montgomery County, where I was a legislator,

      16      has something known as a "self-sufficiency standard"

      17      for a family that measures the amount of income that

      18      is needed to meet basic needs without public

      19      assistance or private assistance.

      20             This standard takes into consideration the

      21      cost of housing, child care, food, health care,

      22      transportation, taxes, and other miscellaneous

      23      expenses.

      24             This self-sufficiency standard from

      25      Montgomery County indicated the amount needed to


       1      make ends meet for one adult, one preschooler, and

       2      one school-aged child, and that amounted to

       3      $36.90 per hour; or, $77,933 annually; or,

       4      421 percent of the federal poverty level.

       5             A single adult would need to make $17.07 an

       6      hour to meet basics needs.

       7             The minimum wage for Maryland, which passed

       8      during this year's legislative session, is being

       9      raised to 10.10 an hour, but we know that 10.10 is

      10      still not enough.

      11             The bill sponsors in all three jurisdictions

      12      decided to move legislation in our respective

      13      councils at the same time.

      14             In fact, we moved the bill through committee

      15      within days of each jurisdiction's committee votes

      16      and final action.

      17             The end result, even though hard-fought in

      18      each of our chambers, moved the possibility forward

      19      of passing a minimum-wage bill in Annapolis during

      20      the recent 90-day legislative session in Maryland.

      21             In fact, Governor Martin O'Malley made the

      22      passage of a 10.10 minimum-wage bill his number one

      23      priority.

      24             We know that without the coalition that we

      25      established through our local legislative authority,


       1      we would not have been able to change the debate

       2      that created a statewide minimum wage in Maryland.

       3             Still, those who oppose any increase in the

       4      minimum wage will claim that business cannot afford

       5      modestly higher wages for their employees, even as

       6      the evidence makes clear that businesses that pay

       7      fair wages ultimately benefit from reduced turnover,

       8      as you've already heard, and higher worker

       9      productive.

      10             Also, contrary to common perceptions of

      11      low-wage workers, the vast majority are not

      12      teenagers.

      13             We heard that already.

      14             We estimate that only 10 percent of the

      15      workers earning less than $12 per hour in my county

      16      are teenagers.

      17             About 44 percent are between the ages of 20

      18      and 34; 33 percent are between the ages of 35 and

      19      44; and 13 percent are actually 55 or older.

      20             Other workers earning less than $12 per hour

      21      in Montgomery County, 55 percent are women.

      22             The majority of these workers has at least

      23      some college education, and just less than one-third

      24      has children.

      25             About 17 percent of these workers also work


       1      full-time, although about 60 percent of them work

       2      less than 20 hours a week.

       3             Those who speak about widespread job loss and

       4      negative impact on small businesses, I need to

       5      challenge your claims on that.

       6             The minimum wage has been raised in this

       7      state and others around the country many times.

       8             There have also been several increases in the

       9      federal minimum wage, and in none of these cases

      10      that we see the doomsday scenario of job and

      11      business loss laid out by some.

      12             In fact, the real strain on economic growth

      13      in today's economy stems from the decision made by

      14      many national food chains and big-box retailers to

      15      inflate their profits by paying rock-bottom wages,

      16      which is siphoning of money out of local communities

      17      and impoverishing the customer base needed to

      18      sustain economic growth, while at the same time

      19      experiencing record profits.

      20             We know that 10.10 isn't enough, and we are

      21      seeing the emergence of local wage ordinances as a

      22      way to generate momentum for further state action

      23      and as a corrective for urbanized regions with a

      24      standard of living higher than the state as a whole.

      25             The legislation before you would be a huge


       1      step forward in strengthening the self-determination

       2      of local jurisdictions based on the local realities

       3      in each of them.

       4             They can decide best the appropriate wage for

       5      their constituents.

       6             By an enacting this legislation, we can

       7      ensure that all of New York's working families are

       8      able to support themselves no matter where they live

       9      in the state, and pursue the person dream of

      10      opportunity for all of its citizens.

      11             Thank you for the opportunity.

      12                  [Applause.]

      13             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      14             Before we move forward we've, been joined by

      15      Senator Daniel Squadron.

      16             And I think --

      17                  [Applause.]

      18             SENATOR SAVINO:  [Unintelligible] has a fan

      19      club.

      20             And I've been informed that Senator Sanders,

      21      who got here a little after we started, would like

      22      to make an opening statement, so, please, be brief.

      23             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  No, no.  I'm going to

      24      be so brief, that I'm going to wait until everyone

      25      is finished, and then I'll speak --


       1             SENATOR SAVINO:  That's why you're my

       2      favorite Senator.

       3                  [Laughter.]

       4             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  She tells that to all

       5      of us.

       6             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

       7             I know, she told that to me, too, so I don't

       8      know what to tell you.

       9             SENATOR SAVINO:  Depends on -- I'm fickle.

      10      It depends on the moment.

      11             You're my favorite senator right now.

      12             And now we're going to hear from

      13      Erik Retting, from -- northeast outreach manager,

      14      Small Business Majority.

      15             ERIK RETTING:  Well, thank you.

      16             Good morning, Chairwoman Savino and members

      17      of the Committee.

      18             Thank you for having me here today to discuss

      19      this important -- the importance to small-business

      20      owners of allowing local wage authorities to set an

      21      increase in their own minimum wage.

      22             A raise up in New York legislation that would

      23      allow cities and counties to enact higher local

      24      wages above the state's minimum wage would help

      25      ensure New York's wage structure makes sense for


       1      local economies.

       2             What's more, it's strongly supported by our

       3      small-business community.

       4             New York has the highest level of income

       5      inequality in the nation, with roughly 3 million

       6      low-wage workers living here in the Empire State.

       7             The current $8 minimum wage, which amounts to

       8      about sixteen thousand six hundred and forty

       9      thousand dollars -- $16,640 annually, and even the

      10      $9 wage set to take an effect in 2016, is not enough

      11      for workers in high-cost areas to afford basic

      12      living costs.

      13             New York entrepreneurs support granting wage

      14      authority to localities because it would help

      15      address our severe income inequality while giving a

      16      much needed boost to low-wage workers and the

      17      economy.

      18             A recent scientific opinion poll released by

      19      Small Business Majority found two-thirds of New York

      20      entrepreneurs agree cities and counties in the state

      21      should set and increase their own minimum wage above

      22      the state's to ensure it makes sense for local

      23      economies.

      24             Now, our poll found about 74 percent of

      25      New York small-business owners support raising the


       1      minimum wage and adjusting it annually to keep pace

       2      with the cost of living.

       3             Small employers believe increasing the

       4      minimum wage will enhance consumer spending, which

       5      can increase the demand for small firms' goods and

       6      services, and boost their businesses' bottom lines,

       7      while strengthening the economy.

       8             The nearly half of respondents say raising

       9      the minimum wage would help make their business more

      10      competitive because competitors wouldn't be able to

      11      undercut them on labor costs.

      12             About three-fourths of New York

      13      small-business owners agree increasing the minimum

      14      wage will not only help the economy, it would make

      15      low-income consumers more likely to spend money,

      16      driving up demand for small businesses' goods and

      17      services.

      18             Finally, more than two-thirds believe

      19      increasing the minimum wage would help decrease

      20      pressure on taxpayer-financed government assistance

      21      that's needed to make up for low-wages, as it would

      22      help people afford basic necessities that might

      23      otherwise be out of their financial reach.

      24             By letting city and county authorities set

      25      and increase their local minimum wage to ensure it


       1      meets the needs for the cost of living in their

       2      area, more New Yorkers will have more money to spend

       3      at small businesses.

       4             This will help them create jobs, which

       5      strengthens the economy overall.

       6             The bottom line is, that New York's

       7      small-business owners support allowing cities and

       8      counties to raise their minimum to compensate for

       9      the cost of living, because it's good for business,

      10      workers, and the economy.

      11             We hope you will strongly consider

      12      small-businesses' strong support as you consider

      13      this legislation.

      14             Thank you again for your time and energy on

      15      this important issue.

      16             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      17                  [Applause.]

      18             SENATOR SAVINO:  Finally, from Paul?

      19             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  Yeah.

      20             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.

      21             Another PowerPoint?  Okay.

      22             I like the PowerPoints.

      23             I have a short attention span.

      24             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  Thank you.

      25             Good morning, Chairwoman Savino and members


       1      of the Committee.

       2             Thanks for the opportunity to testify.

       3             I'm Paul Sonn, with the National Employment

       4      Law Project.

       5             As you know, this weekend, the Governor

       6      announced his support for a hybrid minimum-wage

       7      package that would make very significant progress

       8      towards raising the wage floor broadly across the

       9      state, while allowing latitude for local variations

      10      to address varying local conditions.

      11             It had three components:

      12             One was, a -- raising the statewide minimum

      13      wage to $10.10 an hour;

      14             The second is, then indexing it for

      15      inflation;

      16             And the third is, allowing localities to go

      17      higher, with a 30 percent ceiling on how much higher

      18      they could go.

      19             I will briefly touch on the first two

      20      elements, and then mostly discuss the third one

      21      which has been the subject of the great, as sort of,

      22      discussion and debate.

      23             On the first element, it's barely been one

      24      year since we worked with you, Senator --

      25      Chairwoman Savino, on raising New York's minimum


       1      wage.

       2             But, already, New York's $9 package, which

       3      hasn't been phased in entirely, has been leapfrogged

       4      by most of the other high-cost, sort of, coastal

       5      states -- or, many of the other high-cost costal

       6      states.

       7             You know, 10.10 -- or, $10 and change, as the

       8      Governor's proposed, is really the new benchmark for

       9      comparable states.

      10             Five states in the past year have already

      11      raised they're minimum wages to that level:

      12      California; Connecticut and Vermont, our neighbors;

      13      Maryland; and Hawaii.

      14             The next couple of months, Maryland and

      15      Illinois are expected to do the same -- I mean,

      16      Massachusetts, rather, and Illinois, are expected to

      17      do the same.

      18             And, finally, actually, California, which was

      19      the first to start this way, which was already going

      20      to ten, they went -- they're going back and raising

      21      the state minimum wage to $13 an hour.  And that

      22      passed --

      23                  [Applause.]

      24             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  -- that passed the

      25      California Senate last Thursday, and is now going to


       1      the Assembly, and possibly the Governor.

       2             So, the $10 benchmark is a very reasonably,

       3      even modest, benchmark for a high-wage state like

       4      New York.

       5             On the second element, cost-of-living

       6      indexing, it's a key reform, or commonsense reform,

       7      to make sure the minimum wage doesn't erode in value

       8      every year.

       9             Thirteen states now have annual

      10      cost-of-living indexing.

      11             Since we worked with you last year, that's an

      12      increase of three states that have gone -- have

      13      adopted it in the last year: New Jersey, Minnesota,

      14      and Michigan.

      15             Michigan was just last week, and it is the

      16      first Republican majority legislature to adopt

      17      cost-of-living indexing.

      18             It's actually a commonsense reform that many

      19      voices in the business community back, as giving

      20      them predictability, you know, the ability to plan

      21      for and absorb regular, you know, modest wage

      22      increases.

      23             And that's why, you know, everyone, from

      24      Mitt Romney, to a wide range of business groups,

      25      back indexing.


       1             But the second -- the third element is this

       2      issue of local -- allowing local minimum wages,

       3      local variation.

       4             And which -- our organization has worked with

       5      most of the cities and counties across the

       6      United States that have adopted higher local minimum

       7      wages, going back more than ten years.

       8             This slide shows the trend.

       9             You'll see it started -- actually, I think

      10      the first one was really in D.C. in '92.

      11             But then it -- a decade ago, in

      12      San Francisco, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

      13             A few more jurisdictions, until you get to

      14      this year.  And there are, now, a total of 15 --

      15      there are -- 2 laws have already been enacted, and

      16      there are 15 more being proposed.

      17             It really -- this is clearly the year that

      18      this local minimum-wage idea has gone mainstream.

      19             You know, President Obama called for action

      20      by mayors to raise the minimum wage locally in the

      21      State of the Union.

      22             Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago has convened --

      23      you know, a moderate has convened a task force to

      24      hammer out a Chicago minimum wage.

      25             And now Governor Cuomo has thrown his support


       1      behind the idea in a -- in a certain hybrid form.

       2             We are also seeing that the -- and I should

       3      say, also, it's not just, sort of, liberal states.

       4             We see San Diego is proposing a higher

       5      minimum wage.

       6             And Oklahoma City actually moved to enact a

       7      higher city minimum wage, until the Tea Party

       8      Governor there and the legislature kind of stepped

       9      in to block them.

      10             The other key element is kind of parallel to

      11      the more robust levels we're seeing for state

      12      minimum-wage bills.  The dollar values for these

      13      city minimum wages is really going up substantially.

      14             Back a decade ago, they were in the

      15      7-to-10-dollar range.

      16             Just last year, they were mostly in the 10 or

      17      11 range.

      18             Now the proposals we've seeing span all the

      19      way up to $15 an hour, as you heard in Seattle.

      20             And the next slide shows you a chart of the

      21      proposals currently being pushed around the country.

      22             There are -- a bunch of the high-cost cities

      23      are pushing $15 minimum wages.  And then some other

      24      jurisdictions are pushing lower levels.

      25             The Governor's proposal to raise the state to


       1      10.10, and then allow localities to go up to

       2      30 percent higher, which would translate to

       3      13 and change, really is a moderate proposal that

       4      would fall in the middle of the pack of what other

       5      jurisdictions are proposing across the country.

       6             So, I'm just going to turn to the -- kind of

       7      the policy pros and cons, and what we really feel

       8      are the driving forces behind these local minimum

       9      wages, which may strike some observers as surprising

      10      that you would attempt to regulate minimum wages at

      11      the local level.

      12             So I think one of the -- the key factor

      13      driving, we believe, most jurisdictions are -- is

      14      addressing regional differences in living costs and

      15      economic conditions.

      16             And the number one place you're seeing local

      17      minimum wage is being pushed are the kind of

      18      high-cost regions:

      19             The -- the D.C. and Maryland suburbs which

      20      are, you know, very -- you know, much higher cost of

      21      living than the eastern shore;

      22             Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and San Diego

      23      in California, much higher cost of living;

      24             Seattle in Washington.

      25             But it's really -- it's not just those areas.


       1             We're actually seeing them also in small

       2      cities like Davis, California, that has identified

       3      the growth of low-wage jobs as a real issue locally.

       4      Most of those jobs are linked to that location.

       5      Their jobs tied to the -- it's a college town, tied

       6      to serving the consumer base there.  So they're

       7      pushing a higher minimum wage.

       8             And even rural areas, like Las Cruces,

       9      New Mexico, are pushing higher minimum wages.

      10             And that goes to the -- the second reason

      11      that I think a lot of the localities are pushing it,

      12      is to build momentum for state minimum-wage

      13      increases.

      14             You heard from other panelists about how, in

      15      California, New Mexico, Maryland, they've played a

      16      key role in moving the economic viability of higher

      17      state minimum wages building momentum.

      18             You know, once the minimum wage goes up

      19      locally, there's less -- businesses in that part of

      20      the state are less opposed to a statewide increase.

      21             But the other place you see it is in places

      22      where, you know, maybe there's a -- if the -- where

      23      a governor is perhaps blocking minimum-wage

      24      increases, or there's gridlock and the state isn't

      25      able to act regularly to raise the minimum wage,


       1      cities are stepping in to act.

       2             And that's what we're seeing today in Maine

       3      and New Mexico, where you have Tea Party governors

       4      who are blocking minimum-wage increases, and we're

       5      seeing localities, including rural ones, like

       6      Las Cruces, New Mexico, or Santa Fe County,

       7      New Mexico, acting to raise the minimum wage.

       8             So one of the -- I'd say that we can maybe

       9      segue into the Q&A, but one of the key questions

      10      I wanted to address is, you hear questions raised

      11      about the workability of having varying local

      12      minimum wages by jurisdiction; whether it's really

      13      just too burdensome or not manageable for the

      14      business community.

      15             And I think we don't have to predict, you

      16      know, this.  This is -- we have, now, a full decade

      17      of experience with local minimum wages.

      18             And I think there are, maybe, three factors

      19      which have -- are explained why it really has not

      20      proven unworkable.

      21             The first is, as a practical matter, it

      22      really is a limited number of cities and counties in

      23      each state that typically use this power; those that

      24      really feel they have distinctly different economic

      25      circumstances that really necessitate going much


       1      higher than the state level.

       2             It's really been, you know, a relatively

       3      small number of jurisdictions in each state, and it

       4      hasn't been a, you know, crazy quilt of varying

       5      standards.

       6             The second is, and as illustrated by the

       7      Maryland suburb/D.C. model, there really are -- both

       8      there are good opportunities to do regional minimum

       9      wages that really -- that minimize variation.

      10             New York is actually lucky that it has --

      11      New York counties have full regulatory authority.

      12             Some states' counties don't that have.

      13             They are very sensible regional units for

      14      enacting the higher minimum wages.

      15             But, also, there's the possibility that we

      16      saw in D.C., of pairs and trios of counties banding

      17      together and acting in tandem.

      18             You could imagine Suffolk and Nassau, perhaps

      19      doing that.  Maybe Westchester and Rockland, maybe

      20      the Albany-area counties, if they thought a higher

      21      wage made sense.

      22             And then, really, the third and final factor

      23      I'd note, is we don't have to -- we actually already

      24      have experience with varying local standards in

      25      other policy areas.  Actually, the minimum-wage


       1      areas is not really an unusual one where local

       2      policy is restricted.

       3             New York is generally a broad, liberal state.

       4      Localities have broad policymaking authority.

       5             For example:

       6             Around paid-sick-days legislation;

       7             Human-rights legislation to protect against

       8      discrimination against the unemployed or persons

       9      with criminal records.

      10             And we see there's some variations, some

      11      localities.  You know, New York City, Ithaca,

      12      Buffalo, some of the major suburban counties, will

      13      use that power.  But, it hasn't resulted in an

      14      unmanageable array of differing standards.

      15             So, maybe I'll wrap up there, and we can

      16      segue to the Q&A.

      17             Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

      18             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      19                  [Applause.]

      20             SENATOR SAVINO:  Before we go to questions,

      21      did you want to comment now, or you want to --

      22      you'll wait?

      23             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  Sure, sure.

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  Go ahead.

      25             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  If I can get this


       1      thing to work.

       2             Ah, it is working.  I like working.

       3             Thank you, Madame Chair.

       4             It's good that you did this hearing.

       5             It's good that we join on a Monday morning,

       6      where we gather with the usual suspects who are on

       7      the side of the angels.

       8             Every time I see a barricade, where we're

       9      trying to do something positive, I usually see the

      10      same people.

      11             So I'm glad of that.

      12             I also understood that, when New York State

      13      was proposing its $9 minimum wage over three years,

      14      that it wouldn't work.

      15             And, of course, I could not support that; and

      16      could not and did not support that one.

      17             I'm glad that the Governor has agreed to my

      18      bill.

      19                  [Applause.]

      20             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  It was refreshing to

      21      hear our Governor propose the very bill that I had

      22      proposed some months ago.

      23             My only difference is, I didn't put this

      24      30 percent cap that he's speaking about.

      25             But, I look forward to working with him, and


       1      I think that the sooner we get to it, the better.

       2             But I am disturbed, Madame Chair.

       3             I am disturbed that California, "California,"

       4      as worthy as the left coast is, how can they do

       5      better than the Empire State?

       6                  [Applause.]

       7             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  We have a patriotic

       8      duty in the Empire State not to be undone by

       9      California.  And we should take this to heart.

      10             Thank you very much, Madame Chair.

      11             SENATOR SAVINO:  I'm going offer a potential

      12      explanation.

      13             California has twice as many people than

      14      New York, and twice as many people to annoy in their

      15      legislature.

      16                  [Laughter.]

      17             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  But our people are

      18      twice as annoying.

      19                  [Laughter.]

      20                  [Applause.]

      21             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  Yeah!

      22             SENATOR SAVINO:  Just remember,

      23      Senator Sanders said "you're all annoying."

      24      I didn't.

      25             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]


       1             Should we start the rally now?

       2             SENATOR SAVINO:  Yes.

       3                  [Laughter.]

       4             SENATOR SAVINO:  I do have a couple of --

       5      first of all, thank all of you for this really

       6      informative testimony.

       7             And I wish other members of the Legislature

       8      were here to listen to it because, as we talk about

       9      minimum wage, and then many of you are involved in

      10      last year's efforts to raise the minimum wage, and

      11      in the 2004 -- actually, no.

      12             2004 was the culmination of a 5-year campaign

      13      to raise the minimum wage in New York State.  And at

      14      the time it was as contentious, and we heard the

      15      same arguments from people then that we heard last

      16      year, and we'll always continue to hear, one that

      17      you all refute, their argument, over and over, with

      18      your analysis and your testimony.

      19             But what we now have is something we didn't

      20      have then: we have other states to look at.

      21             And so I think it's more important than ever

      22      that we look at the effect of what the various

      23      minimum-wage proposals have had, whether or not

      24      indexing has affected other counties, whether or not

      25      local control and indexing is the way to go.


       1             And I think we have a treasure trove of

       2      information that we can work with now.

       3             But there's a couple of points I wanted to

       4      make.

       5             First, I love all the PowerPoints.

       6             I love this one [holding up a diagram].  This

       7      is my favorite one --

       8                  [Applause.]

       9             SENATOR SAVINO:  -- because of the two faces.

      10             But what's interesting to note in here, and,

      11      again, I'm going to put on my union hat, the

      12      difference between labor density in the

      13      private-sector employment during this time frame and

      14      now cannot be ignored.

      15             There's a 25 percent reduction in labor

      16      density in private-sector employment, which has, in

      17      many ways, contributed to wage stagnation, certainly

      18      wage depression.

      19             Over the course of that time, though, I think

      20      government has stepped in, and rightfully so, to

      21      examine some of our public-welfare policies, to see

      22      to it that we don't allow families to continue to

      23      fall further into poverty, increasing eligibility

      24      for support services, things like food stamps,

      25      things like Medicaid, or as we created Family Health


       1      Plus and Child Health Plus, to take public dollars

       2      and put them in.

       3             In many respect, though, I think we -- the

       4      unintended consequences, that we have almost

       5      incentivized employers to depress wages and keep

       6      them low because we are making up the difference.

       7             I'm not suggesting that we should change

       8      that, because we do need to take our public dollars

       9      and put them where they belong.  But, somehow, we

      10      have got to stop, you know, sending a message to the

      11      Walmarts and the large corporations that it's okay

      12      to pay your workers the lowest rate that you have to

      13      because the government is going to make up the

      14      difference.

      15             That's a policy that we need to --

      16                  [Applause.]

      17             SENATOR SAVINO:  I know my colleagues have a

      18      lot of questions, and I want you to get to them, but

      19      there's, like, a couple of points I wanted to ask

      20      about; particularly, Valerie, your experience as a

      21      legislator in Maryland.

      22             So, you know what it's like to try and get a

      23      minimum-wage bill done.

      24             Because, in a state where you have, you know,

      25      regions where some are poorer than others, there's


       1      no one who can argue that New York City is an

       2      expensive place to live.  Westchester's an expensive

       3      place to live.  Nassau, Suffolk, are expensive

       4      places to live.

       5             It's not the same as Buffalo.  It's not the

       6      same as, you know, pick another county upstate.

       7             And so the challenge for us as we try and

       8      craft a policy is:  How do you answer the concerns

       9      of the small businesses in those parts of the state

      10      that see any attempt to change the minimum wage as,

      11      you know, driving them out of business?

      12             And so, when you did it in Maryland, what was

      13      the experience there?

      14             And -- you know, and do we have something

      15      that we can point to and say, See, all of the

      16      concerns, that the small businesses said that

      17      they're going leave the county and go somewhere,

      18      isn't true?

      19             That it's not going to cause businesses to

      20      close.

      21             That, you know, local control is better,

      22      because I --

      23             Who talked about local control?

      24             Somebody.

      25             No, home rule.


       1             Home rule, exactly.

       2             We're a home-rule state, so we do have those

       3      experiences on home rule.  It's not a foreign

       4      concept to us.

       5             What it's -- we just need better arguments,

       6      so that we can answer the questions when people

       7      throw up their hands and say the world will end and,

       8      you know, we're all going to go out of business.

       9             VALERIE ERVIN:  Well, I appreciate the

      10      question because, as a legislator, just like all of

      11      you, there was a lot of fear on my body of

      12      nine Democrats about the backlash from the business

      13      community, which actually didn't occur.

      14             I think what we were witnessing, was we were

      15      on the tail end of a national move forward on

      16      minimum wage.  It was almost as if it was

      17      inevitable.

      18             But I think what really helped us pass this

      19      legislation, was that D.C. and Prince Georges County

      20      and Montgomery County together in the region, we

      21      wrote the legislation.  It was exactly the same in

      22      all of our communities.

      23             And, so, once we were able to get over the

      24      hurdle of the fear that some legislators had about

      25      the political backlash that could occur with


       1      supporting this kind of legislation, it just sort of

       2      took off on its own.

       3             As a matter of fact, the legislature in

       4      Annapolis, the members of the House and the Senate

       5      were watching this very closely, because they knew

       6      that the governor was going to take a hard look at

       7      sponsoring the legislation at the statewide -- at

       8      the state.

       9             And, so, it was kind of surprising to us that

      10      the business community did not come out in full

      11      force and fight this legislation.

      12             It was almost -- they were almost silent.

      13             SENATOR SAVINO:  It's interesting, because

      14      I remember when we were doing the discussion on the

      15      minimum wage here, I attended a Chamber of Commerce

      16      breakfast.  And the leaders of the Chamber of

      17      Commerce were vehemently opposed to raising the

      18      minimum wage.

      19             But I just threw it out to the room of -- it

      20      was about 250 business owners:  How many of you here

      21      pay the minimum wage?

      22             Only two people raised their hand.

      23             VALERIE ERVIN:  Which is this most

      24      fascinating piece of this conversation, in that, the

      25      business community, especially local small


       1      businesses, they've been paying way more than the

       2      minimum wage for a very long time.

       3             And, as taxpayers, I think the big argument

       4      for minimum wage is that people are tired of

       5      subsidizing big-box stores and corporations that pay

       6      the least amount to their employees as they can,

       7      because, as you just laid out beautifully, we're

       8      paying for it with tax dollars anyway on the other

       9      end.

      10             And so that argument sort of --

      11                  [Applause.]

      12             SENATOR SAVINO:  I have two more questions.

      13             With respect to the localities and states

      14      where they've done -- where they began the process

      15      of raising the minimum wage on a local level, do you

      16      find that counties around the county that acts

      17      first, do you see them beginning to play catch-up;

      18      where initially they resist, and then does it -- it

      19      kind of spreads?

      20             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  That's exactly what's

      21      happened.

      22             For example, in New Mexico, we've seen,

      23      first, Albuquerque raised its minimum wage.  Then

      24      Bernalillo County, which surrounds it, did the same.

      25      Santa Fe -- the city of Santa Fe raised its minimum


       1      wage.  And Santa Fe County surrounding it, which

       2      goes way out into rural areas, actually.

       3             So -- and -- so, yeah, that's exactly what's

       4      happened.

       5             And in the Bay Area, California, you've seen,

       6      there's a whole -- actually, there's a longer list

       7      of cities.

       8             There are, now, a whole ton of California

       9      cities are -- you know, are exploring, you know.

      10      And they're kind of roughly doing it in the sort of

      11      parallel -- you know, the parallel Maryland fashion

      12      of, you know, similar wage levels.

      13             So, uhm -- so, yeah, you know, I think --

      14             SENATOR SAVINO:  How do you prevent, then --

      15      one of the concerns that I've heard is that, well,

      16      let's say New York City raises their wage, pick a

      17      number, $12 an hour, $15 an hour, but the

      18      surrounding counties don't go along with that.

      19             How do you prevent low-wage workers seeking

      20      employment from coming into that job market,

      21      potentially displacing the very workers we're trying

      22      to help in the city of New York?

      23             Or is there no way to mitigate against that?

      24             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  There's no way entirely.

      25             But I was just talking last week with


       1      UFCW 400, which is the D.C. area, kind of,

       2      grocery-workers union.  And they were actually --

       3      they were concerned about this, because their

       4      contract covers Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., and

       5      there was part of -- you know, a bunch of their

       6      stores were covered, and a bunch weren't.  And they

       7      weren't sure whether there would be a lot of, you

       8      know, pressure to transfer.

       9             And it's -- you know, they found, partly,

      10      that workers -- there is some mobility.  Workers are

      11      more mobile than businesses.  But also because of,

      12      commute times and commute expense, they're actually

      13      seeing fewer requests to transfers than they

      14      thought.

      15             And so it's -- they're finding it's not

      16      really -- it's -- that the -- it's -- you know,

      17      there's some complication, but it's not that

      18      disruptive.

      19             And the main thing they're seeing, as a

      20      union, is they were having trouble making any real

      21      wage gains for their workers at the entry level.

      22             You know, all the negotiation was over

      23      benefits.  You know, and the -- that the -- the

      24      frontline workers were making barely more than

      25      minimum wage.


       1             So they are delivering, for the first time,

       2      very substantial minimum -- you know, pay gains for

       3      their entry-level workers, because the minimum wage

       4      went from 8.25 -- 8 to -- it's going up to 11.50.

       5             So they are -- you know, feel that it's a

       6      really useful complement to their organizing.

       7             And it also helps --

       8             MICHAEL KINK:  It also helps to the contrary.

       9             SENATOR SAVINO:  That's -- well, that was one

      10      of the -- the final point I was going to ask you

      11      about.

      12             Some unions, like UFCW, their

      13      collective-bargaining agreements have language that

      14      speaks to minimum wage, so there's -- that's one of

      15      the issues that they've raised.

      16             Whatever we do, we have to be careful that we

      17      don't do something that abrogates an existing

      18      collective-bargaining agreement or

      19      collective-bargaining pattern that has been

      20      longstanding.

      21             So we just need to keep that in mind.

      22             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  Yeah.

      23             So, yeah -- so some of them do reference,

      24      I guess it would be an interpretive question, how

      25      that contract is interpreted; whether it's


       1      referencing the new local minimum wages.

       2             But the UFCWs in -- you know, in California,

       3      in Maryland, have found that it's -- you know,

       4      there's some complication, but, on balance, they

       5      find it hugely beneficial for improving standards in

       6      their industries.  And, also, for making sure that

       7      the higher-paying union employers aren't undercut by

       8      the competition.

       9             There's a -- you know, basically, it raises

      10      the floor that they can then bargain up from.

      11             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      12                  [Applause.]

      13                  Senator Peralta.

      14             SENATOR PERALTA:  Thank you, Senator Savino.

      15             So, if we were to adjust for inflation, the

      16      cost of living, what should the minimum wage be in

      17      New York City?

      18             SENATOR SAVINO:  She said 36 bucks.

      19             I'm, like -- I don't think we earn $36 an

      20      hour.

      21             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  If it was adjusting for

      22      inflation, it would be, you know, more like 12ish,

      23      whatever.

      24             But, you know, if you really adjusted to keep

      25      track -- keep up with productivity gains, to keep up


       1      with the real cost of living, and to match what

       2      other high-cost cities are doing, you would do

       3      $15 an hour.

       4             And, so -- which is, you know, we think is

       5      really economically realistic in New York.

       6             We're seeing other cities are pushing it.

       7             And, you know, long term, you know, something

       8      like that, is -- you know, should be the goal.

       9             But the Governor's proposal is very

      10      significant progress in that direction, and is --

      11      would really make a tremendous difference both on

      12      the statewide and for localities.

      13                  [Applause.]

      14             SENATOR PERALTA:  So, seeing the PowerPoint

      15      presentation, and the fact that I heard that the

      16      average CEO makes $23 million, CEO salaries have

      17      increased 400 percent since 2000, while workers'

      18      salaries -- did you say 3 percent?

      19             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

      20             .3 percent.

      21             SENATOR PERALTA:  .3 percent.

      22             Thank you for clarifying that.

      23             -- .3 percent, I am surprised, and very

      24      saddened, that we're not talking about the repeal of

      25      the minimum-wage-reimbursement tax credit, since the


       1      minimum-wage reimbursement -- the

       2      minimum-wage-reimbursement tax credit was given to

       3      big-box stores look Walmart, KFC, McDonald's, so

       4      they can hire -- they can continue to hire

       5      teenagers.

       6             And what we've heard was, what, over

       7      80 percent of workers -- minimum-wage workers are no

       8      longer teenagers?  Is that correct?

       9             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Unintelligible.]

      10             SENATOR PERALTA:  So, basically, we're giving

      11      big-box stores an incentive to keep teenage workers,

      12      so they can maintain their tax credit.

      13             And fortunately for us, one of the big-box

      14      stores, Walmart, was on record, just last year,

      15      saying that they're not going to take the

      16      minimum-wage tax credit.

      17             So if they're not going take the

      18      minimum-wage-reimbursement tax credit, why should we

      19      not repeal it?

      20             Because what some of the estimation is, it's

      21      estimated that, for the first year, it's going to

      22      cost us 35 million, and the next three years, it

      23      will cost us around 65 million per year.

      24             So that's money that can go back into --

      25      putting it into increasing the minimum wage.


       1             So that's something that I wanted to put on

       2      record, because it's very important that we see what

       3      we're doing here.

       4             This agreement that was passed sends the

       5      wrong message:  That, on one end, we're trying to

       6      increase minimum wage to $9 an hour after a 3-year

       7      period; but at the same time, we're going to give

       8      big-box stores all these tax credits so that we can

       9      maintain hiring teenagers and put, unfortunately,

      10      these individuals, 80 percent of which are over the

      11      age of 21, out of work.

      12             So that's something I just wanted to put into

      13      the record.

      14                  [Applause.]

      15             SENATOR SAVINO:  That's it?

      16             Our Assembly crasher.

      17                  [Laughter.]

      18             ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  I appreciate the

      19      opportunity to make a special guest appearance here,

      20      a rare appearance, at the Senate Committee hearing.

      21             Just a quick question:

      22             You know, we've got a lot of different, and

      23      from my view, very positive proposals on the table

      24      at this point.

      25             From the perspective of the panelists, what


       1      is more important as a reform we can do now?

       2             Assuming we have a 10.10 statewide wage,

       3      should we -- is indexing, going forward, more

       4      important, from your perspective; or is giving

       5      localities a significant ability to have a

       6      differential?

       7             MICHAEL KINK:  Well, I'm going to go forward

       8      and say both, and have to say both.

       9                  [Applause.]

      10             MICHAEL KINK:  You know, indexing would be a

      11      tremendously valuable gain for workers across

      12      New York.

      13             And, the ability to respond to local cost of

      14      living, the precedent that New York should move to

      15      being one of these states that sees more higher and

      16      more frequent increases in minimum wage for workers,

      17      that is equally important.

      18             So I think, in both ways, we're setting

      19      important standards for going forward for where the

      20      state needs to be.

      21             And we're responding, as Senator Savino said,

      22      to the historic changes here.

      23             Right?

      24             We're doing things, that take all the

      25      low-wage jobs that we're creating, make them better


       1      jobs, and work both with government and with

       2      unionization.  Right?

       3             These people are organizing unions.  Right?

       4             These things work together.

       5             And so having government at your back, with

       6      indexing and local wage authority, and, the workers

       7      working together to organize and unionize,

       8      tremendously valuable.

       9                  [Applause.]

      10             TSEDEYE GEBRESELASSIE, ESQ.:  I would just

      11      say, you know, indexing, it's important to keep in

      12      mind, it's -- all it does -- I mean, it's a

      13      wonderful reform, but it just maintains the real

      14      value of the current minimum wage; so it,

      15      effectively, makes sure that 10.10 remains 10.10 as

      16      the cost of living goes up.

      17             So you need local wage control because you

      18      need those localities that have much higher cost of

      19      living to be able to go above the 10.10.

      20                  [Applause.]

      21             VALERIE ERVIN:  One final comment:  And the

      22      regional wage in Montgomery and Prince Georges

      23      County, we did not index, it did not pass.

      24             It did in D.C.

      25             And it did not pass the state of Maryland,


       1      which is a huge mistake, moving forward, because now

       2      we -- what we've done is just, essentially, told

       3      workers to tread water for a while, because those

       4      gains are going to be lost.

       5             So we're going to go back and fight for

       6      indexing, next year.

       7                  [Applause.]

       8             ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  I'm going to push my

       9      friends on the panel a little bit here.

      10             You know, we have a long tradition in this

      11      state of not indexing; and, instead, periodically

      12      revisiting this question.

      13             I have been a long proponent of indexing,

      14      I favor it.

      15             I don't quite understand the mysterious

      16      reasons it is such a big lift, but it has been a big

      17      lift in the past.

      18             If we raise the wage to 10.10 an hour now,

      19      statewide, and, we give what is currently floating

      20      around there, I have a bill -- I've been pushing a

      21      bill for a 25 percent differential --

      22             There's now a proposal, over the weekend, for

      23      a 30 percent differential.

      24             -- if we do that now, if we have to choose,

      25      say, between doing a local differential now, and


       1      indexing, so that a couple of years from now this

       2      catches up with inflation again, are you folks

       3      really sticking with those are equally important

       4      goals?

       5             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  Absolutely.

       6             I mean, 10.10 just isn't enough for the

       7      high-cost regions of the state.

       8             And, you know, frankly, we can come back and

       9      raise the state minimum wage again.

      10             You know, it's -- you know, New York -- it

      11      would be good if New York -- if the State did it a

      12      little more regularly, like Connecticut and

      13      Massachusetts do, but, you know, the regional

      14      variation is -- makes -- you know, it would be a --

      15      you know, make a $3-an-hour difference for the

      16      workers of New York.

      17             That's tremendous.

      18             You know, right now, places like, you know,

      19      San Diego, and, you know, actually, you know, the

      20      minimum wage in, you know, Santa Fe County,

      21      New Mexico, are higher than in New York City, and

      22      are higher than 10.10 an hour.

      23             We really need a way to get above 10.10 for

      24      New York City.

      25                  [Applause.]


       1             MICHAEL KINK:  And, you know, as Ken said,

       2      and we should let Ken talk a little bit, Tokyo,

       3      Osaka, I mean, that's what we're talking about in

       4      New York.

       5             We're talking about world-class cities with

       6      companies making historically high profits.  There's

       7      an ability to pay these wages.

       8             And moving us in this direction forward is --

       9      you know, is historical.

      10             We've got to do that.

      11             KEN JACOBS:  Just one other thing on

      12      indexing:  Indexing both makes sense for workers and

      13      for businesses.

      14             SENATOR SAVINO:  And for the Legislature,

      15      too.

      16             KEN JACOBS:  And the -- right, all the way

      17      around.  There's a logic here.

      18             SENATOR SAVINO:  Takes us out of this

      19      process.

      20             KEN JACOBS:  Right, yeah.

      21             Because, for workers, what indexing means, is

      22      that they stay up with -- as inflation go goes up.

      23             And so what we've seen historically is, the

      24      declining value of the minimum wage, you have,

      25      basically, the standards go down, and then you get


       1      these jumps back up when it goes back to the

       2      legislative process.

       3             So that's -- also, obviously, that has

       4      impacts on the legislative process.

       5             But what it means for firms, is rather than

       6      being able to plan on a slow, steady increase, they

       7      go through this constant thing of, you know, things

       8      go down, and then they have these larger jumps all

       9      at once.  And that's not good for business planning,

      10      as well.

      11             So indexing is smart for workers, smart for

      12      government, and smart for businesses.

      13                  [Applause.]

      14             MICHAEL KINK:  The one other thing that

      15      I would add for the record, is that Seattle has a

      16      lower cost of living than New York City does, and

      17      they're at $15 already.

      18             So getting us to the point where we can start

      19      to meet the very high cost of living in

      20      New York City and the metro-area suburbs, where we

      21      can work on a regional basis, like they did in

      22      Maryland and other parts of the state, to do it

      23      across patterns.

      24             And that, Senator Savino, is the thing we've

      25      been hearing from legislators from other parts of


       1      the state, saying, Well, we're a little scared about

       2      just doing it in this city or county.

       3             But if it were a broader pattern, like it was

       4      in Maryland, where we could do it across the metro

       5      area, that would start to make real good sense.

       6             And if we're indexed, it's predictable for

       7      business.

       8                  [Applause.]

       9             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      10             Next is Senator Perkins.

      11             SENATOR PERKINS:  Yeah, two quick questions,

      12      Ms. Ervin.

      13             So, your governor came on board and that was

      14      useful.

      15             What brought him to Jesus, so to speak?

      16                  [Laughter.]

      17             VALERIE ERVIN:  Well, since I'm in New York,

      18      maybe I can answer that question.

      19             SENATOR PERKINS:  Sure.  Be frank.

      20             VALERIE ERVIN:  He's running for president,

      21      and it was a good political move.

      22             I'm just, like, being honest.

      23             But I thought it was really important that he

      24      did that, even though, in Maryland, at the end of

      25      the day, the bill passed: 10.10, with no indexing,


       1      and tip-wage earners got capped.

       2             So we have a lot of work to do in Maryland,

       3      still.

       4             SENATOR PERKINS:  Thank you very much.

       5             The other question that I had is:

       6             So, our government is now is moving in the

       7      right direction, someone said.

       8             Exactly -- explain what that means, and how

       9      much more do we have to go?

      10             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  Well, again, the other

      11      high-cost cities are proposing $15 an hour.

      12             That's what Chicago is proposing, LA is

      13      proposing, San Francisco is proposing, Seattle.

      14             New York City is at the top of the, you know,

      15      cost of living for global cities in the U.S.

      16             If any metro economy could justify a

      17      $15 minimum wage, it's New York City.

      18             So that's -- the Governor's proposal, though,

      19      is very substantial progress.

      20             It would get you us to be 13 and change,

      21      assuming you did all the parts of it: 10.10

      22      statewide, 30 percent higher for the metros.

      23             So that's -- that's very, very substantial

      24      progress.  And -- but -- and we'd keep working

      25      towards the long-term goal of a -- of a, ultimately,


       1      higher and sustainable minimum wage for places like

       2      New York City.

       3             MICHAEL KINK:  And I will say, Senator, you

       4      know, there is something to the fact that we have

       5      not previously been one of these states that's

       6      allowed localities to set their own wages.

       7             Having a way to step forward to address these

       8      local concerns, to show that it works, and then,

       9      potentially, to move forward after that, is a big

      10      step, right, if we get to 10.10, 13.30.

      11             These folks are still working for $15 in the

      12      union.  They are not going to stop fighting, and

      13      we're not going to stop supporting them until that

      14      happens.

      15                  [Applause.]

      16             MICHAEL KINK:  But, as that kind of hybrid

      17      model to sort of set a corridor, where we have a

      18      good statewide increase, we have indexing, and then

      19      we begin to respond to local cost of living, that

      20      puts us on a path to where we're actually responsive

      21      in getting towards the wages where we need to be.

      22                  [Applause.]

      23             SENATOR PERKINS:  Thank you very much.

      24             And I want to thank the Working Families

      25      Party for the work they've done towards this end.


       1             SENATOR SAVINO:  They didn't get here yet.

       2             I do see them in the room, though.

       3             Senator Rivera.

       4             SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you, Senator Savino.

       5             Again, thank you for being here, and thank

       6      you for bringing all the information that you're

       7      bringing to us.

       8             I've always been a supporter of raising the

       9      minimum wage.  I believe it will have a positive

      10      effect.

      11             Certainly on the folks that live in my

      12      district, it will be immediate.

      13             However, there are many folks that are not in

      14      this room that are opposed to it, and we hear the

      15      usual pushback.

      16             And so I wanted to take the time, I don't

      17      know if, Mr. Jacobs, I don't know if I call you

      18      "Dr. Jacobs"?

      19             KEN JACOBS:  Mr. Jacobs.

      20             SENATOR RIVERA:  Mr. Jacobs?

      21             Because you spoke like a Ph.D., so I -- and

      22      as --

      23             KEN JACOBS:  I work with lots of economists.

      24                  [Laughter.]

      25             SENATOR RIVERA:  So -- that is exactly why


       1      I wanted to narrow down some of the comments that

       2      you made, and actually ask specific questions about

       3      how the -- you know, how the opposition usually

       4      frames this.

       5             As somebody who's -- you know, I'm not a

       6      full-blown academic.  I came originally to New York

       7      to do a Ph.D., but I don't have one.

       8             But, obviously, you deal with a lot of them,

       9      and this is some of the facts that you deal with on

      10      a daily basis.

      11             Just to read a short -- just a sentence,

      12      which I think that you will have heard many, many

      13      times, or read many, many times:

      14             "The belief that increasing the minimum wage

      15      is socially beneficial is a delusion.  It is

      16      shortsighted and ignores evident reality.

      17             "Workers who retain their jobs are made

      18      better off, but only at the expense of unskilled,

      19      mostly young workers who either lose their jobs or

      20      can't find the job at the legal minimum."

      21             That is one of the types of arguments.

      22             Obviously, we're not going to have a long

      23      academic conversation, but I want you to kind of dig

      24      down into that a little bit, particularly

      25      considering the numbers that you were talking about,


       1      that you discussed earlier.

       2             KEN JACOBS:  Sure.

       3             That is a longstanding contention.  And that

       4      comes from this basic idea that a thinking of labor

       5      as purely -- when they look at the supply-and-demand

       6      curve, they think of it as, Well, if you raise the

       7      cost, then the demand is going to go down.

       8             Except, you also have to look -- think about

       9      the supply side that of equation, and that's been

      10      long known within economics, because, if you also

      11      have -- people aren't widgets.

      12             If you raise the cost of this pen, the pen

      13      will write the same way.

      14             If you raise the cost of labor, labor

      15      performance changes.

      16             You have reductions in turnover.  People stay

      17      at the job longer.  Again, they work harder.  All of

      18      those other factors that I mentioned earlier, in

      19      terms of absenteeism, et cetera.

      20             So that's an important impact that spreads

      21      throughout how -- in terms of what those results

      22      are, which means that you can't just say, in theory,

      23      cost goes up, demand goes down.  You have to

      24      actually look at the empirical evidence.

      25             And what's happened over the last 20 years,


       1      since David Cardinel [ph.] and Krueger did a famous

       2      study looking at fast-food restaurants on the other

       3      side of the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border after a

       4      minimum-wage increase in New Jersey, is there's been

       5      a massive amount of empirical evidence, really

       6      looking at these questions, and looking at it --

       7      both, in terms of restaurant employment, and looking

       8      at it in terms of teen employment.

       9             So, again, the biggest thing we've had

      10      recently, these large national studies that look at,

      11      every time there's a different state minimum wage,

      12      you can look right across county borders.

      13             And that includes some places that are urban

      14      areas across the border, and some places that are

      15      rural areas across the board.

      16             Right?

      17             The Idaho-Washington line.

      18             And so you can look at, Well, what happened

      19      to teen employment on both sides of those borders?

      20      Did it change?

      21             And the answer is, you don't see an impact.

      22             And there's a very significant amount of

      23      research that really has changed the perceptions.

      24             So there was a survey of top economists done

      25      by -- out of the University of Chicago.  And I think


       1      it was something, like, the -- only 15 percent

       2      thought that the harm of a minimum wage was greater

       3      than the good.

       4             I mean, that position has gotten smaller and

       5      smaller among economists, as the empirical evidence

       6      has just been so overwhelming on the other side,

       7      that those negative impacts have not appeared at the

       8      levels of minimum wages that we've seen in the

       9      United States today.

      10                  [Applause.]

      11             SENATOR RIVERA:  Two more -- thank you for

      12      that.

      13             Two more questions that deal directly, again,

      14      with the data that you crunch and look at every day.

      15             As far as the age of these workers, what is

      16      the -- and I know that we mentioned it before, but

      17      I want to also again get it on the record, as far as

      18      the breakdown of what -- who these folks are, and

      19      what their ages are.

      20             KEN JACOBS:  There's been a significant shift

      21      in who makes up the low-wage workforce over the last

      22      30 to 40 years.

      23             And so, again, when you look at sort of who

      24      are workers earning less than 10.10 an hour, or

      25      $12 an hour, the low-wage workforce are


       1      overwhelmingly adults.  They, on average, provide

       2      more than half of their family's income.

       3             So, this is not a question of teenagers

       4      working for extra money.

       5             It's a question of people who -- and even

       6      where you've got teenagers working for extra money,

       7      many of them are in low-income households and they

       8      contribute to their household's survival.

       9             So, in general, what we're talking about here

      10      is workers who are contributing an important part of

      11      their family's income, who are, in the vast

      12      majority, adults.

      13                  [Applause.]

      14             SENATOR RIVERA:  And, lastly --

      15             KEN JACOBS:  Oh, and just one other thing

      16      that adds in on the "teenage" question, because

      17      I think this is really important, is we've looked at

      18      the cost of college tuition going up and up, and the

      19      issue of student debt becoming a bigger and bigger

      20      issue.

      21             The fact that 18- or 19- or 20-year-olds

      22      would earn more money is an extremely positive

      23      thing, if faced in terms what their economic

      24      pressures are, as well.

      25                  [Applause.]


       1             SENATOR RIVERA:  And, lastly, related to the

       2      time frame that folks working these jobs, another --

       3      quoting from -- what I quoted earlier, by the way,

       4      was an editorial from "Forbes Magazine."  Again,

       5      shocked that they would say something like that.

       6             I'm going to quote from a report from the

       7      Cato Institute, that -- when it's stating the

       8      conclusions, basically, making this whole argument.

       9             But a lot of graphs -- there's a lot of

      10      graphs here.  I'll show them to you later, and maybe

      11      you can explain them to me.

      12             But the conclusion, in one part, it says:

      13             "In the American economy, low-wages are

      14      usually paid to entry-level workers, but those

      15      workers usually do not earn these wages for extended

      16      periods of time."

      17             So I wanted to actually get -- drill down on

      18      that particular issue, considering, again, many of

      19      the folks I represent, this is not they're reality.

      20             KEN JACOBS:  So, if you look at that in the

      21      perspective of, low-wage jobs in the low-wage

      22      industries have extremely high turnover.  Right?

      23             So right in the restaurant industry, your

      24      turnover rate's over 30 percent a year.

      25             Well, what's happening there is not that


       1      people are then going from that job to a

       2      higher-paying job.  They're going to another

       3      low-wage job with -- generally, within that

       4      industry, but where they can get just a tiny bit

       5      more.

       6             Because people are so desperate, what you

       7      have is a lot of movement within these low-wage

       8      occupations.

       9             So when you raise the wages, you get that

      10      sharp decrease in turnover.

      11             We did a study, looking at the San Francisco

      12      International Airport after higher labor standards

      13      were set in that airport.  And this was in 2000.

      14             You saw security screeners at the time were

      15      earning very low-wages.  They were contracted-out

      16      jobs, and turnover was 100 percent a year.

      17             After that, the wage increase went into

      18      effect.  It dropped 80 percent points.  It went down

      19      to 20 percent a year immediately.  And that created

      20      significant savings, and also has important

      21      improvements around safety and security.

      22             So I think the idea, when we look at this and

      23      say, Well, people stay in these jobs a short time;

      24      they stay in the jobs a short time because the

      25      result of that is that turnover, but they are not


       1      moving up the economic ladder.

       2             SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you so much again

       3      for --

       4                  [Applause.]

       5             SENATOR RIVERA:  You certainly deserve all

       6      those applauses.

       7             Thank you so much for all of you, for the

       8      that work you're doing.

       9             And, we look forward, again, to continuing to

      10      work with you, to make sure that this happens as

      11      soon as humanly possible [unintelligible] this year.

      12             Thank you.

      13                  [Applause.]

      14             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  Thank you,

      15      Madame Chair.

      16             I do want to point out another fallacy that

      17      the "Forbes" article, and articles like that, are

      18      not really speaking of; and that, of course, is the

      19      multiplier effect of paying low-wage workers more

      20      money.

      21             These workers are not as inclined as

      22      high-wage workers to put their money into hedge

      23      funds.

      24             The hedge fund that they are looking for is

      25      called "survival."  It's called "making sure that


       1      their family survives."

       2             So that multiplier effect, indeed, can create

       3      more jobs in those very communities that we speak

       4      of.

       5             I also wanted to point out, a question has

       6      arisen of our Governor's belated turn towards this

       7      question.

       8             And some may say that there was something

       9      political about it, but I don't see that at all.

      10             I believe that the Governor was sitting down

      11      at his house late at night, and was catching up on

      12      some old reading, and he grabbed my bill, and he saw

      13      my bill, and he saw that these three points, and he

      14      said, You know what?

      15             SENATOR PERKINS:  [Not on video.]

      16             I see the light.

      17             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  He saw the light and

      18      said, Sanders makes sense, and I'm going to go with

      19      every single thing that he said months ago.

      20             And I think it's just a question of timing,

      21      and he saw the light.  And I commend him for it.

      22             And I urge him that I have other bills that

      23      he should look at while he's doing these things.

      24             Thank you very much.

      25                  [Laughter.]


       1                  [Applause.]

       2             SENATOR SAVINO:  That was not a question so

       3      much as a comment.

       4             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  Oh?

       5             SENATOR SAVINO:  No, that's okay.  We only

       6      have about another hour.

       7             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  My question is, Will

       8      he get to my other bills?

       9             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.

      10                  [Laughter.]

      11             SENATOR SAVINO:  Senator Squadron.

      12             And then we're going to move to the workers,

      13      because we really do want to hear from them.

      14             Thank you.

      15             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Thank you.

      16             Thank you very much.

      17             A couple of questions, just for the panel.

      18             To start, thank you all for coming and for

      19      answering our questions.

      20             You talked about the need to sort of, both,

      21      index and have local control.

      22             Is there a statewide number that you think is

      23      the appropriate statewide minimum wage?

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  He answered that already.

      25             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  The 13 that California is


       1      proposing, you know, would be good.

       2             I mean, New York, comparable economy.

       3             They're proposing that for the

       4      Central Valley, for everywhere, statewide.

       5             There's no reason New York couldn't have the

       6      same.

       7                  [Applause.]

       8             SENATOR SQUADRON:  And what about for

       9      New York City; either New York City five boroughs or

      10      New York City region?

      11             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

      12             15.

      13             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

      14             He's answered it.

      15             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

      16             He's answered it.

      17             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Thank you.

      18             Thank you, all.

      19                  [Laughter.]

      20             SENATOR SQUADRON:  So, presumably, if we got

      21      to those numbers, then indexing would be an

      22      appropriate way to solve this.

      23             You wouldn't need local control any further

      24      if you started from that baseline.

      25             Is that fair to say?


       1             MICHAEL KINK:  Well, you know, I think one of

       2      the questions you've seen, particularly in

       3      New York City, is occasional explosions in housing

       4      costs.  Right?

       5             Having the ability to respond to local

       6      pressure is important.

       7             And, also, you know, I think we're -- we got

       8      policy experts.

       9             We also have people that have worked on these

      10      campaigns.  Right?

      11             That the flexibility that comes from a

      12      statutory structure that allows localities to move,

      13      to respond, and then to make the case on a statewide

      14      basis, is smart.  Right?

      15             And I think that, when and how you get to an

      16      appropriate level, you know, will we get there all

      17      the way at once?

      18             We probably won't.  Right?

      19             We're going to have to do this in steps.

      20             So I think that's why we're saying both are

      21      important, to achieve the gains, to back them up

      22      with indexing, but then to allow those local cost

      23      differentials to continue to have something where

      24      you can respond as government.

      25             SENATOR SQUADRON:  You know, because it's an


       1      interesting point, both the 13 and the panel's

       2      answer of $15, because New York City actually does

       3      calculate its own poverty rate.

       4             The Center for Economic Opportunity has a new

       5      calculation that takes into account -- relatively

       6      new, that takes into account costs -- the true cost

       7      of living in New York City, the true take-home pay

       8      of folks.

       9             And for a family of four in New York City,

      10      under this level, you're really, you know, not at

      11      the poverty line until you're over 30,000 -- $31,000

      12      a year, for a family of four.

      13             And I think that's telling, in two ways:

      14             One is, that New York City does have, in

      15      fact, its own index, that's a different index.  It

      16      takes into account some of the peculiarities that

      17      Paul Sonn and others spoke about.

      18             You think, and then you answered, sort of,

      19      13, based on the California example.

      20             Do you think that 13 and 15 are appropriate

      21      because they're tied to some baseline?

      22             Objectively, how can we know, moving forward,

      23      sort of, what the wage should be?

      24             What's either the value or the economics of

      25      what, you know, real work should pay for folks?


       1             Because I don't believe it's homelessness and

       2      hunger and the inability to support yourself, and

       3      certainly to support a family.

       4             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  Well, that's a good

       5      question.

       6             So, one frequent benchmark that, you know,

       7      economists have used for where a robust minimum wage

       8      should be is somewhere on the order of 50 or -- to

       9      60 percent of median wage.

      10             And if you do that for high-cost regions of

      11      the country, like New York City, the Bay Area,

      12      Seattle, it comes out to approximately 15 bucks an

      13      hour.  It's somewhere in the 14-to-16-dollar-an-hour

      14      range, depending.

      15             So that's -- that's one good metric, you

      16      know, sort of, economic principle for the $15 wage,

      17      which, you know, frankly, emerged from the fast-food

      18      campaign as their organizing demand, but is -- we

      19      think (a) you know, is defensible based on economic

      20      principle, (b) we have evidence of industries in

      21      cities, transitioning low-wage industries or whole

      22      economies, up to wages close to that level.

      23             As Ken explained, San Francisco is already at

      24      13.18 or so, if you combine their wage and

      25      health-benefit standard.  The economy hasn't


       1      suffered.

       2             Washington, D.C. has a security-guard minimum

       3      wage at 16.50.  It went into effect in 2008.  No

       4      evident, you know, ill-effects on the commercial

       5      real-estate industry.

       6             So, we haven't experienced -- and, actually,

       7      in New York, most people don't know it, for home

       8      health-care workers, they've transitioned the wages

       9      and benefits up to 14.09 over the past few years.

      10             So it's been done, and so there's a good

      11      principle for the 15 range.

      12             And, statewide, yeah, there's -- it's -- you

      13      know, something, you know, in the 12-, 13-dollar

      14      range would also make sense.

      15             SENATOR SQUADRON:  But the calculation

      16      [unintelligible].

      17             So -- and let me just try to understand.

      18             So we're talking about New York City doing

      19      some pretty, you know, the hyper-liberal Bloomberg

      20      administration actually came up with that, for that

      21      calculation, and -- you know, and it's -- and it's

      22      sort of being accepted.  You know, there's talk

      23      about applying it at the federal level.

      24             Gets you to about $15 an hour for a

      25      family of 4, if you're working full-time, never take


       1      a day vacation, you work every single hour you

       2      possibly can to work full-time.

       3             The difference between what we have now, and

       4      that, about $16,000 a year, and about $30,000 a

       5      year, has to be made up somewhere.  Right?

       6             That's a calculation that takes into account,

       7      the need to feed yourself and a dependent; you need

       8      to clothe yourself; you need to get to and from

       9      work; for yourself and your child, the need to have

      10      an actual home outside of a shelter.

      11             And, who makes up that difference when that

      12      wage isn't paid?

      13             KEN JACOBS:  We've done a lot of research.

      14             The public does make up a good part of the

      15      difference -- a part of the difference when the wage

      16      isn't paid.

      17             I mean, it does mean that people live in

      18      poverty.  They live in worse conditions.

      19             SENATOR SQUADRON:  So you're just talking

      20      about some of the --

      21             KEN JACOBS:  But in terms of --

      22             SENATOR SQUADRON:  -- some of the costs to

      23      everyone?

      24             KEN JACOBS:  Sure.

      25             We know that -- we did research last year,


       1      looking at, over 50 percent of fast-food workers

       2      received some sort of public assistance.

       3             And that's true, not just for part-time

       4      workers, but it's true for full-time workers, as

       5      well.

       6             So when you look, across the board, there is

       7      some very significant public support for the

       8      low-wage workforce, in terms of food stamps,

       9      Medicaid.

      10             SENATOR SQUADRON:  So if you're making, like,

      11      $16,000 a year, and you have a child, who's paying

      12      your health costs?

      13             KEN JACOBS:  The public.

      14             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Okay.

      15             And what about food; food stamps, food

      16      subsidies?

      17             KEN JACOBS:  Taxpayers.

      18             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Okay.

      19             And if you're not able to maintain your home

      20      in New York City because, $16,000 a year, it's not

      21      possible to pay rent anywhere, and you do end up in

      22      a shelter, who pays the shelter costs?

      23             MICHAEL KINK:  The public.

      24             And you're seeing a majority of people in

      25      homeless shelters now, working.


       1             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Right -- I'm sorry.

       2             Was that, the majority of people in homeless

       3      shelters today have jobs?

       4             MICHAEL KINK:  Yeah, absolutely.  Right.

       5             And there have been several reports by the

       6      Coalition for the Homeless about how the

       7      demographics of the homeless population include

       8      large, large numbers of low-wage workers.

       9             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Okay.

      10             So, in other words -- and by the way, which

      11      companies are most likely to pay wages less than

      12      $10?

      13             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  I mean, the lion's share,

      14      you know, depending on what measure, what

      15      definition, of "large employer" you use, somewhere

      16      between, you know, sort of, 53 percent and

      17      66 percent of the low-wage jobs are at large

      18      companies; many of them, the major national retail

      19      and fast-food chains.  They are really --

      20             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Like, what do you mean,

      21      "retail"?

      22             Give me an example.

      23             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  I mean, the big-box retail

      24      stores, Target and Walmart, and the like.  And then

      25      the fast-food chains; McDonald's, Burger King.


       1             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Okay, so -- just so

       2      I understand:

       3             So, when the minimum wage is $8, or even $9,

       4      there's a cost to that.

       5             There's a cost, in terms of people's own

       6      experience, and the workers we're about to hear

       7      from.

       8             There's also a cost to everyone.

       9             So, in other words, I and you and everyone

      10      else is subsidizing McDonald's and Walmart for

      11      paying people to stay in poverty?

      12             PAUL SONN, ESQ.:  Yep.  Exactly right.

      13             SENATOR SQUADRON:  So what is the economic

      14      argument for having all of us, everyone else who's

      15      working hard and doing their best, pay Walmart and

      16      McDonald's back for these wages, instead of just

      17      setting a standard?

      18             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

      19             We'll take that as a rhetorical question.

      20             SENATOR SQUADRON:  No, is there an argument?

      21             I mean, you're probably the wrong people.

      22             I probably have to wait for the back end to

      23      find out what the argument is, but, give it to me

      24      and then defend it.

      25             KEN JACOBS:  I mean, the arguments always do


       1      come down to this question, of whether or not you

       2      think there's an employment effect.

       3             If you don't -- if you've looked at the

       4      evidence and you don't think there's an employment

       5      effect, then there isn't a good argument to go in

       6      that direction.

       7             In fact, we did some research that was

       8      reported on NPR, where we looked at:

       9             If Walmart was to increase wages so that a

      10      single mother with a child no longer needed food

      11      stamps, that was, what was it, $13.67 an hour; and,

      12      if it was passed on to -- costs to consumers, what

      13      would it mean to cost of consumers?

      14             And it turns out, it raised the box of

      15      them -- the cost of a box of macaroni and cheese by

      16      less than a penny.

      17             So, in that sense, you really do have the

      18      capacity, especially when we're talking the retail

      19      sector.

      20             The -- because wages are only 10 percent of

      21      operating costs, on average, across the board, in

      22      the retail sector, that's what they are in the

      23      big-box, the overall price impacts are extremely

      24      small.

      25             So the impacts for the workers are very


       1      large, enough to pull people up so they don't need

       2      public support to make ends meet, while the costs

       3      are extremely small and spread across the income

       4      spectrum in the ways that have very little impact.

       5             SENATOR SQUADRON:  And, of course, then you

       6      see, for example, Costco paying 2 1/2 times, nearly,

       7      what Walmart pays --

       8             KEN JACOBS:  In-N-Out Burger --

       9             SENATOR SQUADRON:  -- and charging,

      10      essentially, the same price for its goods?

      11             KEN JACOBS:  That's right.

      12             And you can see In-N-Out Burger pays much

      13      higher wages than McDonald's or the other --

      14             SENATOR SQUADRON:  And sells a better burger.

      15                  [Laughter.]

      16             SENATOR SQUADRON:  The only way in which

      17      California outpaces New York, period, is

      18      In-N-Out Burger.

      19             Uhm, that might not have been appropriate for

      20      me to say.

      21             Let me just ask a final question, and this is

      22      a serious question:

      23             So -- and we're about to hear from the

      24      workers.

      25             But, when the State says, Look, if you work,


       1      you're going to get 8 bucks an hour, you know, even

       2      if we're talking about it, still, it's single digits

       3      an hour, the state and the federal government will

       4      make up the difference, what message does that send

       5      to folks in terms of the value of work?

       6             What -- if someone is a single parent, or has

       7      an hour commute to and from work, or anything,

       8      what's the argument to make to someone with an

       9      $8 wage, versus, for example, a $15 wage, on the

      10      value of work?

      11             And is there any research on what message

      12      people do take about the value of work when they're

      13      basically told:  Look, your life is really publicly

      14      subsidized.  It's not really your work wage that's

      15      the most significant thing in your life?

      16             KEN JACOBS:  I think it's a good question to

      17      ask some of the workers later.

      18             When I -- I've had this -- I haven't seen

      19      research on it, but talking to workers and having

      20      this conversation, people do feel like they're

      21      devalued.

      22             And I think that is an important message to

      23      say, that if you work -- the issue of -- for people

      24      who are working, should earn enough to survive and

      25      support their families.


       1             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Thank you.

       2             MICHAEL KINK:  I would also say that that

       3      frame emphasizes the historical aspect of this

       4      change.  Right?

       5             During the period of unionization and better

       6      wages after World War II, the society had a broader

       7      respect for workers.  Government and unions worked

       8      together to create the biggest middle class the

       9      world had ever seen.

      10             What we're talking about now is a

      11      twenty-first-century version of that.

      12             We've got to get government back on the sides

      13      of workers.  We've got to support their efforts to

      14      organize and unionize.  And, both the private sector

      15      and the public sector need to work together to move

      16      people forward.

      17                  [Applause.]

      18             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Michael.

      19             So, I guess we're expecting Andrew Cuomo to

      20      become the new FDR.

      21                  [Laughter.]

      22             SENATOR SAVINO:  I'm serious.

      23             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Thank you all very much.

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  Who is a former member of

      25      the New York State Senate, by the way.


       1             We're now going to hear -- actually, we're

       2      going to go out of order.

       3             We were, first, going to hear from the

       4      members of the clergy, but, we really want to hear

       5      from the affected workers who are here from the

       6      worker panel.

       7             Frankie Tisdale --

       8                  [Applause.]

       9             SENATOR SAVINO:  All right, you don't have to

      10      clap for all of them.

      11             Of course, I want to thank the panel, and

      12      I imagine you're going to stick around.

      13             But, these are the workers, so let's wait and

      14      clap for them at the end.

      15             Frankie Tisdale, Alfredo Franco,

      16      Whitney Ortega, Guillermo Worker, and

      17      Selena Alvarez.

      18             Now we can clap.

      19                  [Applause.]

      20             SENATOR SAVINO:  That's what it says.

      21             Oh?

      22             Oh, see, there's no comma in my list here.

      23      It looks like his name is Guillermo Worker.

      24                  [Laughter.]

      25                  Oh!


       1                  And Reverend Que is also going to join

       2        us.

       3             Maybe I should put my glasses on.

       4             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

       5             We have clergy and workers.

       6             SENATOR SAVINO:  Oh, good.  Clergy and

       7      workers together, that's the way it should be.

       8             So, first, we're going to hear from

       9      Whitney Charles, who is an employee with

      10      Yum! Brands.

      11                  [Applause.]

      12             SENATOR SAVINO:  You've got to pull it close

      13      to you.

      14             WHITNEY CHARLES:  Good morning, members of

      15      the State Legislature.

      16             As you introduced me, my name is

      17      Whitney Charles.  I am a cashier at a Yum! Brands

      18      store in Penn Plaza in New York City.

      19             I've been working in fast-food for

      20      approximately three years now, and I'm still

      21      making -- well, I just recently started making

      22      the 8.

      23             I was making 7.75, and then, just recently,

      24      made the 8.

      25             It's very tough.


       1             Like, I currently live with my mom who is a

       2      single parent, and with my younger brother who is

       3      18.

       4             I help her out.  I pay rent, you know, $200 a

       5      month.

       6             I'm also a student.

       7             So between, you know, school expenses and

       8      Metro cards, and other basic necessities, it's,

       9      like, I'm spending a lot a month.  So it's, like,

      10      about 800 a month, to 900 a month.

      11             So, with what I'm getting, $8 an hour, it's

      12      not enough to pay for everything, so I have to --

      13      I find myself making sacrifices.

      14             Like, for example, last week, I had to choose

      15      between, you know, buying a Metro card.

      16             You know, I couldn't buy the Metro card.

      17             So, I had to ask some of my workers, you

      18      know, Can I get a swipe?

      19             Or, in the morning time -- I hope I'm not

      20      incriminating myself -- I would have to hop the

      21      turnstile, or, you know, try to find -- you know,

      22      so, it's very hard.

      23             It's very -- you know?

      24             So I -- personally, I feel like there's no

      25      reason why I should be going through this, because,


       1      I mean, I'm working for a billion-dollar

       2      corporation.  You know, so it's -- it's -- it's

       3      just -- you know, it's not good.

       4             So that's why, you know, as a New Yorker,

       5      passing the local wage bill would be incredible.

       6             It would make a difference, a huge

       7      difference.

       8             Thank you.

       9                  [Applause.]

      10             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      11             Next is Alfredo Franco who works for

      12      Domino's.

      13             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  And I'll be

      14      translating.

      15             SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.

      16             ALFREDO FRANCO:  [Speaking in Spanish.]

      17             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  Good

      18      morning, members of the New York State Legislature.

      19             Thank you for the opportunity to share my

      20      story with you today.

      21             My name is Alfredo Franco, and I work for

      22      Domino's in Washington Heights.

      23             I make $6.40 an hour, plus tips, when I make

      24      deliveries; and $8 an hour when I work inside the

      25      store.


       1             This is not enough to survive and support my

       2      wife and two kids.

       3             Each week I am forced to decide what

       4      necessity I can afford to buy them.

       5             ALFREDO FRANCO:  [Speaking in Spanish.]

       6             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  My company,

       7      Domino's, pays me as little as they're legally

       8      allowed.

       9             And I'm here today to tell you 7 or 8 dollars

      10      an hour isn't enough, which is why it is so

      11      important that you give New York and other cities

      12      the power to raise the minimum wage before the end

      13      of the session.

      14             I have to feed my family and put a roof over

      15      their head now, not next year.

      16                  [Applause.]

      17             ALFREDO FRANCO:  [Speaking in Spanish.]

      18             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  My

      19      co-workers and I went on strike in New York City and

      20      more than 150 cities around the country to demand

      21      $15 an hour and a union.

      22             We know President Obama, the Pope, and most

      23      New Yorkers think the minimum wage should be raised.

      24             The time is now for the Senate and the

      25      Assembly to act and pass this historic law.


       1             Thank you.

       2                  [Applause.]

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  Next, Frankie Tisdale, who

       4      works for KFC.

       5             FRANKIE TISDALE:  Good morning, Senators.

       6             My name is the Frankie Tisdale.

       7             I'm 26 years old, and I'm a father of two.

       8             I'm an employee at KFC, where I work, and

       9      live, in Brooklyn.

      10             And, I have a college degree, but it's

      11      difficult to find work in my field right now, so

      12      I have to settle for working at KFC, where

      13      I struggle, making $8 an hour.

      14             Sometimes I earn an annual salary of less

      15      than $10,000 a year, which, it's hard for me to

      16      provide shelter for my family.

      17             I live with my father.

      18             Sometimes I bring home less than $175 a week.

      19             I also have to provide for government

      20      assistance to feed my family, which is limited

      21      because they have a status quo on how much I can get

      22      to feed my family.

      23             And, my kids is growing.  It's hard for me to

      24      support them.  Like, buy school supplies and

      25      clothing for them to, like, progress in their


       1      education.

       2             And I feel I sacrifice everything, and put so

       3      much into working for so little, to get nothing in

       4      return.

       5             I'm a parent, and I can barely afford health

       6      insurance for my family, life insurance for my

       7      family, or even have a bank account for a rainy day

       8      or in case of emergency.

       9             And, like, it's so much -- it's little

      10      security.

      11             And it's also a stress, and it's demeaning to

      12      me as a man, like, having a family.  Like, I can't,

      13      like, support them properly.

      14             And then, also, teach my kids a valuable

      15      lesson.  Like, why work an honest living and get

      16      paid so little, when you could go another route and

      17      make fast money, and risk, like, getting in trouble

      18      and going to jail.

      19             So, that's another thing; like, minimum wage

      20      really does nothing for Black communities, and

      21      that's why crime is so high.

      22             I'm here to, like, maybe we can get better --

      23      something better on our honest day living.

      24                  [Applause.]

      25             SENATOR SAVINO:  Who else do we have?


       1             Salina?

       2             No.

       3             Who else is -- we have Reverend Que.

       4             Reverend Que?

       5             I thought we had more workers.

       6             REVEREND QUE ENGLISH:  Well, so many touching

       7      stories, I'm almost wondering, like, are we in

       8      America, or are we really in the great state of

       9      New York, listening to some of these stories.

      10             My name is Reverend Que English.  I am the

      11      co-founder of the New York City Clergy Roundtable.

      12             I'm also the co-founder of the Bronx Clergy

      13      Roundtable.

      14             We have the largest coalition, with over

      15      500 partners.

      16             And I'm here representing the many clergy

      17      that couldn't be here today.

      18             We are a large interfaith coalition standing

      19      behind this movement, and have been with them since

      20      the beginning, on numerous movements.

      21             On March 31, 1968,

      22      Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King posed the question,

      23      of whether America could stand idly by and not be

      24      concerned with its own, as well as the surrounding

      25      world's poverty.


       1             He stated that, "The God of history will

       2      judge us specifically on how we treated the least of

       3      these.  Did we ensure that they had enough to eat,

       4      clothes to wear, and sufficient housing?"

       5             The question Reverend King proposed in 1968

       6      is the same question that I propose to you today:

       7             Can you in Albany stand idly by and not be

       8      concerned with the suffering of our brothers and

       9      sisters all throughout the state?

      10             The answer is, unequivocally, no.

      11             3 million New Yorkers did not have enough --

      12      do not have enough money to sufficiently provide for

      13      themselves and their families.

      14             "3 million."

      15             Every day we walk by the homeless, the

      16      hungry, the unemployed, too many shelters, a daily

      17      basis.

      18             And this is the reason why this bill is so

      19      important, because you have the power to change the

      20      course that we're on.

      21             Many of us can easily put a balanced meal on

      22      our tables, and some even afford to go out; yet,

      23      many of us, as faith leaders, receive knocks on the

      24      door for food, with mothers, and sometimes fathers,

      25      with children in strollers, unfed and unkept.


       1             Yes, we know, as faith leaders, we, too, must

       2      do our part, and rightfully so, to take them down to

       3      the corner bodega or to the nearest grocery store to

       4      purchase milk for their children and food for the

       5      family.

       6             And we must realize it's not because they're

       7      lazy.  It's simply because the wage scale is unjust.

       8             We have members in our congregations that

       9      have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.  And

      10      if they are working, they are not spending time with

      11      their children.

      12             So what's happening to our children?

      13             What is our future generation going to look

      14      like long after we're gone?

      15             We as faith leaders have witnessed the tears

      16      on Sunday mornings, the working families that return

      17      to shelters, the families that are without.

      18             The working person in my congregation who is

      19      on the brink of eviction, not because he isn't

      20      working, not because he isn't responsible, but

      21      because he is living off of poverty wages.

      22             We all, including government, corporations,

      23      and community leaders, have a moral duty to ensure

      24      that all human life is valued and respected.

      25             One way to do this is through the designation


       1      of wages, as all human labor has dignity.

       2             Ensuring that wages are at a level in which

       3      people can afford the basic necessities, and more,

       4      is part of that moral duty.

       5             I am here today because I find that

       6      government and corporations are not living up to

       7      this moral duty.

       8             The question becomes:  Why have we allowed

       9      New York State to have the worst income inequality

      10      in the nation?

      11             "To have the worst income inequality in the

      12      nation?"

      13             You hear all the time how one bill is more

      14      important than the next, but, I don't know if

      15      there's any other bill that, by not signing it, will

      16      keep us with this reality.

      17             The other questions become:  Why are we

      18      allowing multi-million- and -billion-dollar

      19      corporations, who are receiving tax subsidies from

      20      our state, to pay our workers such poverty wages?

      21             When other cities and counties around the

      22      country are raising their minimum wage, why is ours

      23      still $8 per hour, with a dollar increase of $9 per

      24      hour expected by 2016?

      25             So the State-designated $8-per-hour minimum


       1      wage is not an adequate minimum wage, as mentioned,

       2      for all municipalities in the state.

       3             $11,000 per year, we just heard the gentleman

       4      said ten, just isn't enough to pay bills, much less

       5      save for a brighter future.

       6             The result of such a low minimum wage, are

       7      that our hard-working New Yorkers and their families

       8      are forced to live in poverty.  And poverty

       9      contributes to the things we see on a daily basis,

      10      from increase in crime, violence, gun violence,

      11      deaths, domestic violence, poor education, truancy,

      12      sexual trafficking, and the list goes on.

      13             These hard-working New Yorkers are forced to

      14      choose, in many cases, between food and housing,

      15      which both should be their basics rights.

      16             The only just solution to this grave

      17      injustice, and I mean it's a grave injustice, is to

      18      allow each municipality the authority to set their

      19      own minimum wage.

      20             This will result in the reduction of our

      21      state's gross income inequality, as well as help to

      22      alleviate poverty.

      23             In conclusion, what we're asking you to do

      24      here today is to take the step in the right

      25      direction.


       1             We won't see the results we need to see until

       2      we do things differently.

       3             And while we know we don't always do it

       4      right, and if we haven't gotten it right on the

       5      state level from the results we've heard today, then

       6      why not attempt to get it right on a municipality

       7      level?

       8                  [Applause.]

       9             REVEREND QUE ENGLISH:  With this bill, you

      10      have not only an opportunity, but a moral obligation

      11      to, support legislation that will help to alleviate

      12      poverty in this entire state.

      13             I strongly encourage you to support this

      14      bill.

      15             Thank you.

      16                  [Applause.]

      17             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Reverend.

      18             ELIZABETH GLASSANOS:  Hello.  My name is

      19      Beth Glassanos.

      20             I'm here with FOCUS Churches of Albany.

      21      We're a coalition of seven different churches right

      22      here in Albany, and many other affiliate faith

      23      communities.

      24             Just up the street, State Street, and also on

      25      Chestnut Street, we operate one soup kitchen, as


       1      well as, we have a food pantry.

       2             Our soup kitchen, every day, 140 people show

       3      up in need of a hot meal.

       4             These are men, women, children, seniors.

       5             Right now about 20 percent of the folks

       6      coming through are veterans.

       7             Our food pantry serves approximately

       8      300 families each month, and folks come through the

       9      door because they need groceries.

      10             They are in fear that they cannot provide for

      11      themselves and their children.

      12             They come because they have stagnate and

      13      insufficient wages that they are earning in

      14      minimum-wage and low-income jobs.

      15             Just as I was on my way, I found this in my

      16      folder.

      17             This is a New York State publication, and we

      18      distribute it in some of our programs, as well as

      19      some of you might distribute it in some of your

      20      programs.

      21             It says, "Are you working but having a hard

      22      time making ends meet?"

      23             And, so, you see that this is happening on a

      24      federal level, on a state level, public benefits are

      25      shrinking.


       1             The so-called "safety-net programs" are no

       2      longer a Band-Aid.

       3             We're an ongoing support to families who are

       4      in need on an ongoing basis.

       5             When we opened, we opened in 1984, there was

       6      an expectation that we would be temporary.

       7             30 years later, we're still going strong.

       8      And, we do not foresee any change.

       9             10,700 children in Albany County are

      10      "food-insecure."

      11             This is a term defined by the USDA as

      12      insecure or insufficient access to adequately

      13      nutritious food.

      14             FOCUS, our organization, has made minimum

      15      wage a central issue in our advocacy plan.

      16             Why?

      17             Because we know the hunger is not caused by

      18      scarcity of food.  Grocery stores are stocked with

      19      food.  There's plenty to go around for everybody.

      20             But, food is completely out of reach for

      21      people who don't have money in their pockets.

      22             We stand together with our colleagues and our

      23      friends here, our workers, in support of raising the

      24      wage in such a way that is consistent with local

      25      economies and the cost of living.


       1             The poverty wage that we have right now has

       2      not kept up with inflation.

       3             Our livelihoods may be growing in quality as

       4      our income grows, improving our residential and

       5      nutritional and educational stability.

       6             But, meanwhile, this is not the case for so

       7      many others.

       8             The poverty wage translates to $18,720 a year

       9      for somebody who's working full-time.

      10             As you heard earlier, that's not the case for

      11      most people.  They're earning much less.

      12             So I always like to throw this in, because

      13      I'm a social worker, in addition to -- that's my

      14      trade, in addition to what I do over at FOCUS.

      15             And what we learn in social work is, a

      16      fundamental understanding, is Maslow's hierarchy.

      17             Most people have heard of it.

      18             Food is a basic need.

      19             We need food to be well-nourished, and to

      20      reach our full potential.  And we need the resources

      21      to access food.

      22             And so I'm asking you, of course, you must

      23      support this bill.

      24             We must get people the support that they need

      25      to be meet absolutely basic fundamental needs.


       1             Thank you.

       2                  [Applause.]

       3             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

       4             First, I want to thank all of out for your

       5      testimony.

       6             And just to clarify, there's several bills

       7      that we're currently looking at.

       8             And in the end, probably, we'll wind up with

       9      six.

      10             There are six current bills before the

      11      Senate Labor Committee that address issues,

      12      everything from raising the minimum wage, allowing

      13      local control, indexing it, combining it,

      14      targeting --

      15             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Unintelligible.]

      16             SENATOR SAVINO:  Right, targeting just one or

      17      two particular industries.

      18             And that's kind of what we're trying to

      19      solicit information here today.

      20             I want to actually speak -- questions for

      21      some of the workers themselves.

      22             I notice each one of you said that you're --

      23      I think most of you have either been to school or

      24      you're in school, and you're working at the same

      25      time.


       1             On average, Whitney, how many hours a week

       2      are you working at Yum! Brands?

       3             WHITNEY CHARLES:  On average, I would say

       4      about 20 hours a week at work.

       5             SENATOR SAVINO:  Uh-huh.

       6             WHITNEY CHARLES:  And the rest in school.

       7             SENATOR SAVINO:  And you -- you're actually a

       8      college graduate.

       9             And what did you get your undergrad degree

      10      in?

      11             FRANKIE TISDALE:  Medical assistant,

      12      associates.

      13             SENATOR SAVINO:  And you're not able to find

      14      employment.

      15             See, I think the reason I'm asking this is,

      16      one of the other issues that I'm very concerned

      17      about is, we're also spending a disproportionate

      18      amount of money on job-training programs.

      19             And the real question is:  Are they

      20      effective, and are we training anybody for any real

      21      jobs?

      22             My guess is, we're probably not putting our

      23      money where it should go.

      24             We've invested billions over the past

      25      15 years --


       1                  [Applause.]

       2             SENATOR SAVINO:  -- and federal TANF money,

       3      in an effort to "reduce" [indicating] -- what was

       4      it, we were going to change welfare as we know it.

       5             And we all know that welfare rolls are lower

       6      now, but we're not necessarily sure that we place

       7      people in real employment.

       8             That's going to be next thing that I look at,

       9      certainly not here today, because we want to make

      10      sure that we give people skills, so that they can

      11      translate that into a career path, not just

      12      subsidizing low-wage work, which is important.

      13             I do notice you all have a T-shirt on, and

      14      I love the T-shirt.  "Stick Together.  $15 an hour

      15      in a union."

      16             So, which union is organizing you guys?

      17             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

      18             32 BJ.

      19             SENATOR SAVINO:  32 BJ.

      20             Have you all signed cards?

      21             You have.

      22             That's excellent.

      23             Has there been any elections held at any of

      24      the various restaurant chains that you're working

      25      in?


       1             Has there been any effort to trigger an

       2      election?

       3             Anybody can answer that question.

       4             Not yet?

       5             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]

       6             Not yet.

       7             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video/no

       8      microphone.]  It's very difficult, too, because the

       9      whole fast-food restaurant is so transient.

      10             SENATOR SAVINO:  Uh-huh.

      11             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video/no

      12      microphone.]  It's kind of hard.  By the time we get

      13      people to actually agree to be unionized,

      14      [unintelligible], they've moved on.

      15      [Unintelligible], or whatever the case may be.

      16             So it's kind of hard to pin that down.

      17             SENATOR SAVINO:  Is there any effort to track

      18      retaliatory efforts by the industry against workers

      19      who are exercising their constitutional right to

      20      organize?

      21             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video/no

      22      microphone.]  Yes, there is.

      23             SENATOR SAVINO:  I would be interested in

      24      someone sharing that with me at a later point in

      25      time.


       1             Organizing is the key to improving standards

       2      for workers, period.

       3                  [Applause.]

       4             SENATOR SAVINO:  And I don't say that --

       5      I don't say that to negate anything that the

       6      Legislature does.

       7             Obviously, I'm a member of the Legislature,

       8      but legislatures come and legislatures go.

       9             And we saw what happened in Wisconsin a few

      10      years ago, where a legislature overturned a historic

      11      right to collective bargaining for public-sector

      12      workers.

      13             Working people should never depend solely on

      14      the legislature.

      15             That's what the union movement is about.

      16             So that's my -- my plug for labor.

      17             And now I'm going to turn it over to my

      18      colleagues.

      19             SENATOR PERALTA:  Thank you, Senator Savino.

      20             I want to echo the sentiments of

      21      Senator Savino in terms of joining a union.

      22             It's very important that you stick together.

      23             And there are going to be days that you're

      24      going to feel like it's not worth it.

      25             But believe me, when it's all said and done,


       1      it will be worth it.

       2             So, stick together.

       3             And I understand that the transient issue is

       4      big.  But, talk to your colleagues, talk to your

       5      co-workers; inform them of the importance of

       6      sticking together, because they can't break you if

       7      you're all together.

       8                  [Applause.]

       9             SENATOR PERALTA:  I also want to thank the

      10      clergy for testifying today, because I want to thank

      11      you for all you do.  And, day in and day out, I know

      12      it's very rigorous work.

      13             And the fact that you're -- that you've come

      14      out and you support this cause is very important.

      15             But more importantly, I want to thank the

      16      workers.

      17             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  [Not on video.]  Yes.

      18                  [Applause.]

      19             SENATOR PERALTA:  Consider yourself role

      20      models and heros.  That's what I consider you,

      21      because you have a choice.  And you have the choice

      22      of being out there -- as you mentioned, of being out

      23      there and living the fast-life and doing something

      24      that you shouldn't be doing.

      25             But what you're doing is, you're doing it the


       1      right way.

       2             You are showing your children, more, the

       3      importance and the value of hard work.

       4             Even though you're not getting paid today,

       5      enough, you will get paid enough down the road,

       6      because we're going to ensure, on our side, that we

       7      work hard to pass, and increase the minimum wage.

       8             And even though 10.10 is not enough, we're

       9      going to continue to push so it gets higher, because

      10      you understand, you have to show your children, and

      11      your family, that what you're doing is the right

      12      thing.

      13             And, I am truly honored to hear your story

      14      and your commitment and your struggle, because it

      15      was once said:  Without struggle, there is no

      16      progress.

      17             And believe you me, there will be progress.

      18                  [Applause.]

      19             SENATOR PERALTA:  Because you're talking to

      20      the individuals who will continue to push to make

      21      sure that we have progress in New York State.

      22             So thank you so much.

      23             You are role models.  You are heroes.

      24                  [Applause.]

      25             SENATOR SAVINO:  Questions?


       1             Senator Squadron.

       2             SENATOR SQUADRON:  First of all, thank you so

       3      much for testifying.

       4             I know that, in addition to the headache of

       5      coming up here and waiting around, and hearing all

       6      of us, you also are risking your employment,

       7      unfortunately, by speaking here.

       8             And the threats and the examples that you've

       9      seen from other folks who have lost their well-being

      10      for speaking out, has to be looming large.

      11             And I want you to know that everything

      12      Senator Savino and Senator Peralta say, is true:

      13             You should never be punished for speaking out

      14      and for protecting your rights.

      15             And, if you are, you know of anyone who is,

      16      let me know, let each of us know individually, and

      17      we will -- luckily, that is already against the law.

      18      And we will make sure that the law comes down on

      19      those folks.

      20                  [Applause.]

      21             SENATOR SQUADRON:  I do want to ask, though,

      22      the same question that I asked previously, which is:

      23             You know, you're in school, and trying to do

      24      your best.  And, obviously, you're working for very,

      25      very few dollars.


       1             What does that say, what do people in your

       2      life say, about work?

       3             What is the value -- what does it say about

       4      the value of work, and of all of the cost and

       5      exhaustion and risks that you take by going to work?

       6             If -- you know, do you have friends and

       7      acquaintances who don't do it, who don't work?

       8             Do you have a sense of, sort of, how much

       9      your work is valued?

      10             And does it ever just feel like it's not

      11      worthwhile?

      12             FRANKIE TISDALE:  Yes.

      13             I have a lot of peers that would rather not

      14      get a job because it pays so little.  It has no

      15      benefits.

      16             So, why get -- why be employed, when you

      17      could do this and make better money doing it?

      18             So -- and that's about it.

      19             SENATOR SQUADRON:  So what do you say to

      20      them?

      21             So why do you keep going it?

      22             Why do you work hard?

      23             FRANKIE TISDALE:  Yeah, but I work hard

      24      because I realize I have a family.  I'm trying to

      25      teach them a lesson.  A valuable lesson.


       1                  [Applause.]

       2             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Anyone else?

       3             WHITNEY CHARLES:  Well, personally, I keep

       4      doing it because of all of the local workers behind

       5      me.

       6             Like, they've been a huge inspiration to me.

       7             Like, when you are consistent and dedicated

       8      to make a change, it will happen, especially when

       9      you stick together.

      10             Like, I recently just came on board with

      11      this, you know, "passing the local bill" movement.

      12             And, the events that I've been to have just

      13      been so overwhelmingly, like, positive.  I've soaked

      14      it all in.  And it's just -- it's really, really --

      15      it makes me happy to see, when people stick

      16      together, for a movement.  Like, break that glass

      17      ceiling, you know, for a change.

      18                  [Applause.]

      19             WHITNEY CHARLES:  So, I would like to say,

      20      thank you, again, to these, you know, fellow

      21      coordinators behind me, because they really are

      22      inspirational.

      23             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Thank you.

      24                  [Applause.]

      25             SENATOR SAVINO:  We have some more workers


       1      joining the panel.

       2             ALFREDO FRANCO:  [Speaking Spanish.]

       3             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  My -- you

       4      know -- you know, it's not very valuable because I'm

       5      making so little, so my family doesn't really value

       6      the work that I do.  Of course not.

       7             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Thank you all very much.

       8             And thank you for sticking with us.

       9                  [Applause.]

      10             SENATOR SQUADRON:  Because we need people to

      11      do.  And it's our job, and the job of organizing,

      12      and the labor unions, and the government, to make

      13      sure that it does have the value it deserves.

      14             And I want you to know that we do value your

      15      work greatly, and the fact that you're sticking with

      16      us.

      17             So, thank you.

      18                  [Applause.]

      19             SENATOR PERALTA:  Guillermo?

      20             [Speaking Spanish.]

      21             ALFREDO FRANCO:  Alfredo.

      22             SENATOR PERALTA:  Oh, Alfredo.

      23             [Speaking Spanish.]

      24             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.



       1             We have some more workers.

       2             SELENA ALVAREZ [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

       3             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  My name is

       4      Selena Alvarez [ph.].

       5             Thank you, Senators, for having me here

       6      today.

       7             I pray to God every day for you all.

       8             I'm the [unintelligible] member of the

       9      church, and I am going to tell you my story.

      10             I came from Mexico five years ago, for a

      11      better future.  And since I arrived here, I worked

      12      in various restaurants in the city of New York,

      13      because, in my country, I used to own my own

      14      restaurant.

      15             SELENA ALVAREZ [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

      16             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  So, in many

      17      of the restaurants that I have worked throughout

      18      New York City, I always get paid the minimum wage.

      19             This is not enough to support my family.

      20             Sometimes I have to work two restaurants in

      21      order to support myself and my family, because

      22      minimum wage in New York City is not enough.

      23             Right now I live in a two-bedroom apartment,

      24      with three other families, my 20-year-old son,

      25      because I cannot afford to pay for one-bedroom


       1      apartment for myself.

       2             SELENA ALVAREZ [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

       3             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  I know many

       4      other families are going through the same situation.

       5             We need to raise the minimum wage in

       6      New York City to live with respect and dignity.

       7             SELENA ALVAREZ [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

       8             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  So we want

       9      to make sure that New York City is able to raise the

      10      local wage, so that we can fight.

      11             And, anything less than $15 the hour in a

      12      city that's as rich as New York is unacceptable.

      13             Thank you.

      14             SELENA ALVAREZ [ph.]:  [Speaking English.]

      15             Thank you.

      16             GAJAIMO ORTEGA [ph.]:  [Speaking English.]

      17             I speak only in Spanish.

      18             She help me.

      19             SENATOR SAVINO:  That's okay.

      20             GAJAIMO ORTEGA [ph.]:  [Unintelligible.]

      21             [Speaking Spanish.]

      22             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:

      23             [Unintelligible] thank you the Labor Senate

      24      Committee for allowing me the opportunity to share

      25      my story.


       1             I would also like to thank the

       2      [unintelligible] of New York, the organization of

       3      which I'm a member from, for inviting me to very

       4      important hearings.

       5             My name is Gajaimo Ortega [ph.], and

       6      I migrated from my county, like many other people,

       7      to one of the most expensive cities in the whole

       8      country, for a hopes of a better future for myself.

       9             My experiences in this county, in terms of

      10      the workforce, has been very difficult.

      11             I'm a hard-working man who has been willing

      12      to pick up any job that comes my way.

      13             Why work, and work?  I can't seem to get

      14      myself out of poverty.

      15             GAJAIMO ORTEGA [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

      16             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  Currently,

      17      I work for a baking company in Brooklyn, New York.

      18      In this factory, I use my hands to make a bread for

      19      people to eat.

      20             While I enjoy baking, I cannot enjoy my life

      21      outside of work.  My pay of only $300 per week does

      22      not go far enough to cover even the most basic needs

      23      that one has.

      24             As a single man, I have to cover all my costs

      25      for rent, food, transportation, clothing, and other


       1      necessary expenses.

       2             Money is so tight, that I ran a

       3      [unintelligible] with no kitchen.  I eat out of a

       4      microwave in one of the richest cities in America.

       5             GAJAIMO ORTEGA [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

       6             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  In addition

       7      to my core expenses, I scrap up the little that

       8      I have to send money away to my mother in Mexico.

       9      Over the past years, her health has worsened,

      10      leaving her to count on my dollars to cover her

      11      medication.

      12             I don't know how to pull this off, but, every

      13      day, I wake up nervous about how my next month's

      14      expenses will get covered.

      15             Everything around us is going up in cost.

      16             If my paycheck does not follow, I will be

      17      left with nothing.

      18             GAJAIMO ORTEGA [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

      19             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  For that

      20      reason, I say here, urging you to raise up New York.

      21             I've been failed by my federal government who

      22      set up federal minimum wage of 7.25 the hour.

      23             I have been failed by my state government who

      24      set a state minimum wage of $8 the hour, going up to

      25      only $9 the hour by 2016.


       1             [Unintelligible] my local governments to do a

       2      better for me, and raise my minimum wage to a living

       3      wage.

       4                  [Applause.]

       5             GAJAIMO ORTEGA [ph.]:  [Speaking Spanish.]

       6             [Speaking English]  Thank you so much,

       7      everybody.  God bless you.

       8                  [Applause.]

       9             TRANSLATOR [Spanish to English]:  There are

      10      3 million other New Yorkers like me who go to work

      11      every day and we live below the federal poverty

      12      line.

      13             Many of them have children.  I can't imagine

      14      the suffering that one feels when you can't buy your

      15      kid a spring coat, or can't send them to a summer

      16      camp, or, God forbid, can't put food on their table.

      17             Raise up New York for all of us.

      18             Thank you.

      19                  [Applause.]

      20             SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

      21             I want to thank all of you for your

      22      testimony, and all of the panels that participated

      23      in this hearing.  And, of course, my colleagues who

      24      sat through the whole thing on this very important

      25      issue.


       1             As I said earlier, we had the room till

       2      twelve.

       3             Well, we got 12:25.

       4             I do have to -- we do have to end the

       5      hearing, though, at this point.

       6             If there are any other people who wanted to

       7      offer testimony, or have it, please, give it to my

       8      trusty assistant, Barbara O'Neill.

       9             This is going to be an ongoing discussion for

      10      the very lengthy period of time we have left in this

      11      legislative session, which is, uh, 2 1/2 weeks.

      12             Plenty of time.

      13             Right, Senator Sanders?

      14             And Senator Sanders, who didn't get to make

      15      his opening statement, will now make it as a closing

      16      statement, as we bring this Senate Labor Committee

      17      hearing on wage control to a close.

      18             Thank you, everyone.

      19                  [Applause.]

      20             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  I was struck by the

      21      eloquence of the panel, where, there's something

      22      called "the ring of truth."

      23             The ring of truth, and that you can hear it.

      24             If you keep your ears open and your mind

      25      open, you will hear what is true, and what is not


       1      true.

       2             So I am very glad and honored that you were

       3      kind enough to keep it real in Albany, and, perhaps,

       4      bring the real to Albany.

       5             Would you be kind enough to translate.

       6                  [Translators translate English to

       7        Spanish.]

       8             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  Work must pay, and

       9      honest work has dignity.

      10             This we teach our children, not just with our

      11      voices, but with our lives, where we have to show

      12      that there is another way, a harder way, but a way

      13      that we want our children to live in, because, we

      14      want our children to live.

      15                  [Applause.]

      16                  [Translators translate English to

      17        Spanish.]

      18             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  The Koran -- since

      19      there were religious people here, the Koran says

      20      that the belly of the rich is never full.

      21             Now, I refuse to believe that.

      22             And I also refuse to believe that government

      23      is powerless, and there's nothing that we can do and

      24      nothing that we will do.  And, on these things, we

      25      must act.


       1             My colleagues who have been here, who have

       2      put in many hours, our Chair who called a hearing,

       3      all of these folk are committed to addressing this

       4      issue.

       5             And there are other good people up here.

       6             All are committed to addressing this issue.

       7             A personal place to you, is that I personally

       8      will stay on this issue, and -- until we bring as

       9      much justice as Albany has to offer.

      10                  [Applause.]

      11             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  Thank you for coming

      12      up, that long pilgrimage, and thank you for keeping

      13      it real in Albany.

      14                  [Applause.]

      15             SENATOR SANDERS, JR.:  Thanks to our Chair

      16      and my colleagues.


      18                  (Whereupon, at approximately 12:18 p.m.,

      19        the public hearing held before the New York State

      20        Senate Standing Committee on Labor concluded, and

      21        adjourned.)

      22                            ---oOo---