As New York workers continue to push the state to adopt a $15 an hour minimum wage, they can look to the city of Los Angeles for inspiration.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council drafted an ordinance to gradually raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2020 for employers with 26 or more workers. Albina Ardon, a Fight for $15 LA member and a McDonald’s employee for 10 years who makes $9.05 an hour, said that the latest development is what happens when workers stick together with a particular goal in mind.
“If we can win $15 in America’s second most populous city, we know it will give momentum to workers around the country who are fighting for the same thing,” said Ardon in a statement. “We applaud the City Council for their leadership and we urge them to stand by us and our families, and pass a $15 minimum wage into law.”
Ardon also hoped that this increase in wages would help people like her pull themselves out of economic holes.
“People like me, who work hard for multibillion-dollar corporations like McDonald’s, should not have to rely on food stamps to survive,” Ardon said. “My life would be completely different if I were paid $15 an hour. I could afford groceries without needing food stamps, my family could stop sharing our apartment with renters for extra money and I’d be able to provide my daughters with some security.” As of press time, the ordinance was being taken up by a City Council committee.
On the East Coast, New York workers kicked off a statewide campaign pushing for Gov. Andrews Cuomo’s wage board to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for cooks and cashiers at fast-food restaurants and similar businesses. Coinciding with the first meeting of the wage board, workers across the state from Buffalo to Rochester, Albany and New York City looked to empower workers who also feel they’re underpaid to join their effort.
“I can’t survive on $8.75,” said New York City KFC employee Alvin Major in a statement. “All we are asking is for a fair shot to provide for our families. $15 an hour would mean I could put food on the table and keep the lights on every month, and we wouldn’t have to rely on the government for help.”
The workers’ efforts to get the word out consists of television, radio and print advertisements in certain areas of the state to maximize impact. Kendall Fells, national organizing director of the Fight for $15, said that with the wage board coming to conclusion in little more than a month, they have a chance to change the course not only of history but also of the economy as New Yorkers know it.
“The wage board has an opportunity and a responsibility to fix the fast-food wage crisis that is costing New York state $700 million a year in public assistance,” said Fells in a statement. “Workers employed by multibillion-dollar corporations like McDonald’s should not have to rely on food stamps to survive. That’s why cooks and cashiers across New York are seizing this moment, organizing in every corner of the state and standing with economists, faith leaders and lawmakers to urge the wage board to lift fast-food wages to $15. We won’t stop until we get it.”