“We are here because New York’s workers need and deserve more,” said Cara Noel of UnitedNY. “We have to stand up for what’s right, and what’s right is an honest and reasonable day’s pay, for an honest day’s work.”
On Tuesday Senator Gillibrand joined with, State Senator Peralta, UnitedNY, MaketheRoadNY, RWDSU and members of the community in calling for the Fair Minimum Wage Act. The bill would raise the federal standard of living by raising the minimum wage from $7.25/hr to $9.80/hr, over the next three years. The minimum wage would be indexed to inflation, to make sure that wages continue to increase at a steady rate.
“The discrepancy of a minimum wage poised at $7.25 an hour and the actual living wage for survival in New York City at $12.75 an hour is hard to ignore,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. D-NY. “We are advocating the vulnerable.”
Senator Jose Peralta, D-Queens, advocated on behalf of tipped workers, who receive a mere $2.13 an hour, a number that has gone unchanged in the past 21 years. He argued in favor of higher wages for small local businesses, many of which are struggling in this very Queens neighborhood. But should the Fair Minimum Wage Act be passed, Peralta will continue to push for more. “Wages should be at $10.55 due to inflation by now,” he stated.
The cost of such a low minimum wage is clear, Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road NY, recalled an all-too-familiar story of a woman named Maria, an employee at John F. Kennedy International Airport, unable to get by at $8 an hour. Despite working on her feet in a temperature-controlled environment at a frigid 35 degrees for up to 10 hours a day, up to 60 hours per week, Maria still couldn’t afford to keep her family intact, and the only way to ensure that her children’s basic needs were met was to send them to live with family in her native Dominican Republic as she continued to work here in NYC.