Albany – Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D- Ulster, Dutchess) stood up for the working class today when he enthusiastically voted to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour beginning January 2013 and to index these rates to inflation beginning one year later. Cahill is a co-sponsor of this legislation, A.9148, which is now stalled in the Senate.
“The last time we acted to significantly raise the minimum wage was in 2007. Over the past five years, New York’s minimum wage has only increased 10 cents per hour, which is not enough for full-time workers earning the lowest amount legally allowed to survive,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “This increase, coupled with the powerful cost of living provision, will improve the lives of New Yorkers for generations to come and will allow all wage earners to live with dignity.”
Currently, the neighboring states of Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as 15 other states across the country and the District of Columbia, all have higher minimum wages than New York. When the cost of living in our state is taken into account, this makes our minimum wage even lower by comparison.
"Every dollar I earn is already spent before I get my paycheck," said Myrna Capaldi, a single working mother from Kingston, who spoke as a struggling low wage earner at a press conference announcing that the Assembly would be voting on the legislation today.
“Families and the young working poor are going to benefit most from this increase. These are the same people that are struggling with rising college tuition, rents, utility bills and health costs,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “Opponents have suggested that putting a few more pennies into the pockets of poor people will bring down our economy, which is ridiculous. Small businesses, those driving our recovery, are not the employers paying minimum wage; it is the big businesses taking advantage of the working poor in this tough job climate.”
“I am pleased that the New York State Assembly is stepping up to the plate with the increase of the minimum wage, thanks to the noble effort of Assemblypersons such as our own Kevin Cahill. It may not be a ‘living wage,’ but it is a start. The result will help the low end wage earners without affecting businesses like Woodstock Chimes that have been paying well over the minimum wage since its inception in 1979,” said Garry Kvistad, Founder and Owner of Woodstock Percussion Inc. According to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, 78 percent of New Yorkers support raising the minimum wage. Of those who approve of the increase, 37 percent are behind raising it to $8.50 and hour and 52 percent support an even higher increase.
“Minimum wage is not the recipe to cure all of society’s ills. This is about government setting a policy dictating that no one should sell their labor for less than a certain amount,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “Passing this legislation will bring wages to a more respectable level and tie future increases to a cost index so we can finally take the politics out of an issue for the working poor, who are often the least represented in Albany and Washington. I strongly urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow the Assembly’s lead and pass this needed legislation.”