The state's labor commissioner will convene a wage board to look into the pay in New York's fast food industry.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the plan yesterday in a New York Times editorial
. The State Labor Department has the power to convene wage boards to recommend minimum wages for specific industries, as long as an investigation by the labor commissioner shows that pay in an industry or job classification is not "sufficient to provide for the life and health of those workers," Cuomo wrote.
Cuomo proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.50 — $11.50 in New York City — in his 2015-16 budget, but the Legislature rejected the increase. That inaction is the impetus for the wage board, Cuomo wrote. From the op-ed piece:
"Nowhere is the income gap more extreme and obnoxious than in the fast-food industry. Fast-food C.E.O.s are among the highest-paid corporate executives. The average fast-food C.E.O. made $23.8 million in 2013, more than quadruple the average from 2000 (adjusting for inflation). Meanwhile, entry-level food-service workers in New York State earn, on average, $16,920 per year, which at a 40-hour week amounts to $8.50 an hour. Nationally, wages for fast-food workers have increased 0.3 percent since 2000 (again, adjusting for inflation)."
Fast-food companies perform well, he said, but the industry's front-line workers struggle.
Nationally and locally, the Fight for $15 campaign is advocating for a $15 hourly wage for fast-food workers. The coalitions argue that fast-food workers, who are often paid minimum wage or close to it, can't earn enough money to support themselves or their families.
The wage board will report its recommendations in three months, Cuomo wrote.