Andrew Cuomo (51864)
Credit: Pat Arnow

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s ready to do right by workers.

Standing next to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Cuomo announced that the State Labor Commissioner had approved the Wage Board’s recommendation of a $15 an hour minimum wage for workers. It’s a major victory for the movement, and Cuomo added to its potential by promising to try and persuade Albany lawmakers to extend the $15 an hour minimum wage to workers statewide.

“The current minimum wage makes it impossible for many people to earn a decent living, and it’s time that changed,” said Cuomo. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will add fairness to our economy and bring dignity and respect to so many hard-working people who have been forced to live in poverty for too long. My father’s words about helping those left behind in the shining city on a hill are not just a dream—we can and we will make them a reality.

“We will overcome the skeptics and demonstrate to the American people that we can make this a better place because New York is the state of possibility,” Cuomo said. “We can restore hope and opportunity, and we will do it with a $15 minimum wage that ensures economic justice for all.”

Over the past several years, the movement known as “Fight for $15” has swept the nation and parts of the globe. It’s brought about a wider discussion on minimum wage and on capitalism itself. The movement, which started in New York, has achieved small and big victories, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is ready to add another big one for workers.

“Nothing would do more to lift New Yorkers out of poverty and move our economy forward than raising the wage,” stated de Blasio. “That message has been clear here and around the country as this national movement grows; some of our largest cities have taken action, and people from all walks of life are standing together for this vital goal.”

The mayor also said that New York City is ready to help make Cuomo’s minimum wage support a reality and to couple it with affordable housing and universal pre-K.

New York State Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said she looks forward to the fight for a new minimum wage and hopes to win over the Republicans in Albany.

“The Senate Democratic Conference  has been the most vocal advocate of correcting the inadequacies of New York’s current minimum wage, and we look forward to this fight,” said Cousins in a statement. “We have heard promises on progressive legislation in the past, and  unfortunately those have always been blocked by the Republican Senate.”

But where some are seeing Cuomo’s “come to Jesus” moment, others are seeing his latest move in a more cynical light, especially New York State GOP Chairman Ed Cox.

“Governor Cuomo had it right the first time when he said raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour was a ‘non-starter,’” said Cox in a statement. “His reversal is for purely political reasons and his concern for a primary challenge from his left, despite the consequences that it will drive even more residents and small businesses out of New York. We are already ranked at the bottom of the barrel in every major economic category, including the highest taxes, worst business climate, highest energy costs and more.

“How many more people or jobs need to leave New York before the governor wakes up?”