March 7, 2013
By Stephanie West
Indexing Will Protect Low Wage Earners From Future Wage Erosion
Speaker Sheldon Silver and members of the Assembly have announce plans to pass legislation (A.38a) to raise the minimum wage in New York to $9 an hour. The legislation includes indexing which will tie future increases to inflation.
“Our proposal will directly benefit more than 925,000 New Yorkers. It will benefit families trapped between the desire for financial independence and the constant erosion of their wages. By passing this legislation, we will be rewarding hard work with a wage families can live on,” said Silver. “Opponents say that raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses. But let me point out that the majority of low-wage workers are employed not by mom-and-pop shops but by the large chains which have posted steady profits even during recent periods of economic hardship.”
The minimum wage in New York State has increased only ten cents in the last six years. It has remained stagnant at $7.25 an hour since 2009. At this rate, a full-time worker is earning just over $15,000 a year. This salary is so low that most full-time employees supporting a family on minimum wage are eligible for taxpayer-funded public assistance programs.
“Far too many working people in New York are struggling just to survive. They worry how they will afford to house and feed their families. The working poor go to work each day, and still they can’t provide the basic necessities of life. When wages don’t keep pace with rising costs and prices, survival becomes more and more difficult. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can do something about it,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “We call on the State Senate to follow the Assembly’s lead and pass a strong minimum wage bill, with indexing. New York’s working poor can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Ten other states have passed legislation indexing the minimum wage.