Women Leaders Pen Letter To Cuomo, Ask Him To Support Local Wage Standards

In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature, 130 of the state’s most powerful women urged the passage of #RaiseUpNY legislation that would allow cities and counties to raise wages above the state’s minimum of $8 an hour.

The #RaiseUpNY bill (S.6516/A.9036) is a plan to allow individual cities and counties within the state to set their own minimum wage, based on factors such as cost of living. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo has criticized the plan saying it would create a chaotic situation throughout the state by pitting cities and counties against each other.

“Failing to adequately raise the minimum wage has hampered our state’s economic growth and kept over 1.1 million hard working New Yorker’s in poverty,” said Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, who sponsors the bill. “A majority of minimum wage earners are women, many of whom are desperately trying to provide for their families and make ends meet.”

The letter detailed New York income inequality, with 53 percent of women making up the low wage workers in the state and two-thirds of fast food workers. 40 percent of women are also paid less than $15 an hour, compared to 34 percent of men.

The letter also focused on fast food worker Shenita Simon-Toussaint, a shift manager at a Brooklyn KFC who makes only $8 an hour. Simon–Toussaint has three daughters with her husband who is unemployed—leaving her the sole bread winner for her family.

“Our generation is the first in American history to be worse-off economically than the previous one,” said Heather McGhee, president of Demos. “That’s largely because millions of women who are the breadwinners in their families today are stuck earning a pitifully low minimum wage.”

President Barack Obama has announced that he will take executive action to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers. Connecticut and Maryland have raised the state minimum wage to $10.10.

“In view of the most recent increase in the minimum wage in Connecticut, it’s clear that this region has a much higher cost of living and like Connecticut, we must respond by allowing an increase in the minimum wage,” said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan.

Both bills sit in the Labor Committee in each house.

“More and more women who are trying to support families are working in poverty. This injustice has gone on too long. It’s time Albany allowed cities to raise wages for millions of women to help lift families out of poverty and into the middle class,” said Assemblywoman Michele Titus, D-Queens.

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