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Cuomo Will Bypass Senate To Raise Minimum Wage For Fast Food Workers

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, at a union rally in New York City's Union Square to raise the minimum wage, called out fast food chains McDonalds and Burger King by name. He accused them of “corporate greed” for underpaying workers.

Cuomo, in an animated speech, said fast food chains make huge profits while relying on taxpayer subsidies, like food stamps, to make up for the low pay they give their workers.

“I want to get out of the hamburger business,” Cuomo said. “I don’t want the taxpayers of New York subsidizing the profits of McDonald’s anymore. And this has to end.”

Cuomo also took a shot at the beleaguered Republican state Senate, which has blocked further increases in the minimum wage, saying that if “the Republican Senate doesn’t want to hear it.” he’ll act without them.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island has been charged with six counts of corruption in an alleged extortion and bribery scheme, but so far is remaining as Senate Majority Leader.

Cuomo said he’ll bypass the legislature and create a state board to examine increasing the state's minimum wage for fast food workers.

Under state law, the Department of Labor can create a wage board to determine whether the minimum wage in a specific industry is livable.  If the wage board finds that it isn’t, the board can recommend a higher wage.

Cuomo said he’s asked the department of labor to assemble a wage board.  He said the board will give its recommendations to the Labor Commissioner in about three months.

The Labor commissioner can implement the recommendations without approval from the legislature. 

Last year, Cuomo created a wage board that recommended raising the minimum wage for tipped workers in the state.  That wage hike will go into effect at the end of this year.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, whose Democrat-led house already approved a phased-in increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour, said in a statement that it’s a “step in the right direction,” but that “all minimum wage-earners in New York State” deserve a pay raise.

Last month, McDonald’s announced that it would raise its workers’ wages to $10 an hour, higher than the minimum wage in most of the nation.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
Ann is an editor and senior content producer with WSHU, including the founding producer of the weekly talk show, The Full Story.