An increase in minimum wage, but still no help from Albany?

While some may be quick to signal victory once the New York state Senate passes the budget including a minimum wage increase, others aren’t so fast to file this in the “win” column. Earlier this month, the New York state Assembly approved an incremental increase in minimum wage to $9 over the course of three years, but the Republican-led state Senate has proven to be a tough match, and the bill hasn’t officially been passed into law. Under the current deal, approved by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, workers who rely mostly on tips for their income would still maintain their lower, existing minimum wage. That fact wasn’t lost on state Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

“As details emerge, it is clear that the current minimum wage proposal has some serious issues,” said Cousins.

“While increasing the minimum wage to $9 is something that the Senate Democrats have long supported, we are disappointed that the current proposal doesn’t reach this level for three years, is not indexed to the rate of inflation and does not raise the wages of certain service workers.

“The governor and the Assembly all originally proposed acceptable proposals. Unfortunately, the Senate Republicans have blocked these efforts,” continued Cousins. “We propose removing this discussion from the budget and we stand ready to provide 27 votes for raising the minimum wage quicker, with indexing and for all low-wage workers.”

New York’s tipped employees, which is defined by the U.S. Labor Department as workers who make more than $30 a month in tips, earn a base minimum wage between $4.90 and $5.65 an hour, depending on the industry. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour. Tips are supposed to bring it up to $7.25. New York, along with 24 other states, currently matches the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour that President Barack Obama is currently trying to increase.

National Action Network President the Rev. Al Sharpton stated in a release that it was only a matter of time before the minimum wage makes its sway through the Senate. He called it an act of social justice.

“Even though there were enough votes in the New York state Legislature to pass a minimum wage with $9 and indexing, it didn’t get done,” said Sharpton. “But justice isn’t denied, it’s just delayed. Those of us in the Civil Rights Movement know that fairness and justice do not come with one swift victory. They are achieved through struggle and a long-term commitment to do what is right.”