New York Workers Claim Victory as Cuomo Goes Big for $15

Following years of fast food worker organizing, protests, and strikes, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced to a cheering crowd of union members and rights campaigners that he has used his executive power to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for employees at fast food chains—and vowed to endorse making that the base wage for all workers in the state.

Cuomo revealed that the state’s labor commissioner, Mario J. Musolino, signed an executive order—which does not require legislative approval—raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2018 for fast food workers at New York City chains and by 2021 for chains throughout the entire state.

“Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour,” the governor declared while standing alongside Vice President Joe Biden. “We’re not going to stop until we get it done.”

Cuomo’s proposal for a statewide minimum of $15 an hour does require legislative approval in Albany. Nonetheless, the pledge itself marks a considerable shift from the governor’s position just six months ago, when he said that $15 an hour is too high.

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Many attribute the pivot of elected leaders like Cuomo, as well as employers, to mass mobilizations of underpaid workers that continue to grow across the United States.

Biden praised the “profound impact” of the Fight for 15 campaign but did not pledge the participation of the Obama administration on a federal level.