February 13, 2012
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum made the following statement at a January 30, 2012 press conference in Albany to announce minimum wage legislation:
I’m Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). I’m proud to be here today with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and members of the Assembly.
The minimum wage in New York has not been raised in several years, but minimum wage workers are paying more for food, shelter, and other basic necessities. When wages don’t keep pace with rising costs and prices, survival becomes more and more difficult. That’s the predicament countless New Yorkers find themselves in today.
It’s all but impossible to get by on $7.25 per hour, the current minimum wage. Too many low-wage workers, particularly in retail, one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, are struggling to survive.
This is unfair and unacceptable. We’re here to say something significant needs to be done about it during this legislative session.
A broad coalition of labor unions, community organizations and the Working Families Party is supporting the Assembly to raise the minimum wage this year. The RWDSU is an active member of this coalition. We see this effort as the logical and necessary extension of the living wage movement we built in New York City-a movement that led recently to a landmark victory for low-wage workers.
The legislation being introduced today is a small but important step that will help forge a path out of poverty toward the middle class.
Raising the minimum wage in New York is morally right and economically smart: when workers earn more, they spend more, generating demand for new goods and services that will create more jobs and strengthen our economy. When workers are stronger, so are businesses and so are the communities in which we live and work.
New Yorkers need a wage-led recovery from the recession. It’s time to transform economic vulnerability into economic security. This legislation tells low-wage New Yorkers they are not invisible or forgotten, and that government can improve their lives.