On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 94th birthday we recall his message that true racial justice goes hand in hand with financial justice as he informed placing sanitation employees simply weeks earlier than his demise that “our wrestle is for real equality, which suggests financial equality.”
Dr. King’s legacy couldn’t be extra related to Black employees at the moment, nearly half of whom make lower than $15 an hour, in comparison with 26% of white employees. As employees wrestle with historic worth will increase, New York should honor Dr. King’s legacy by elevating New York’s minimal wage to $21.25 by 2026.
New Yorkers reside by the gravest cost-of-living disaster in 40 years. With the minimal wage frozen at $15 an hour, the minimal wage is now value 15% lower than in 2019 — leaving underpaid employees to bear the brunt of this disaster. That hits Black girls and ladies of colour hardest, 41% of whom make lower than $15 an hour.
Gov. Hochul not too long ago proposed “indexing” the minimal wage in order that it goes up yearly with the price of residing. New York could be becoming a member of 18 different states that already index their minimal wage. However New York’s employees want a elevate first, or to be extra correct, a restoration of what $15 could be value at the moment had it stored up with rising costs, which interprets to $21.25.
That is neither far fetched nor price prohibitive, however completely vital. Here is why.
The idea of indexing is not new for New York, however employees have been neglected. Toll charges throughout the state have been listed to rising prices for years, making certain that town and state have the revenues they should grapple with rising prices. Why ought to or not it’s any totally different for working households? A $21.25 minimal wage represents what employees could be receiving by 2026 had New York listed its first-in-the-nation $15 minimal wage again in 2019 to maintain up with rising costs and employee productiveness.
The first driver of worth will increase just isn’t the price of labor or uncooked supplies, however income, which now account for greater than a 3rd of rising prices. Companies have seen a few of their greatest income over the previous decade; income really spiked throughout the pandemic. However these file income should not reaching their employees.
For instance, UPS noticed its income soar throughout 2021, as a consequence of worth will increase and quantity progress. Simply months after making $10 billion in annual income, nonetheless, UPS executives slashed the wages of their part-time workers who in New York Metropolis wrestle on about $16 an hour. Equally, Chipotle skilled file income in 2021 after which solely raised restaurant wages to a mean of $15. They failed to say that additionally they elevated their CEO’s wage, doubling his revenue from $16.1 million to $38 million.
Executives and shareholders throughout numerous industries report file salaries, but the employees answerable for their success are struggling to make ends meet. We will not inform individuals to work for a residing after which watch them go broke attempting, whereas the individuals on the high get even richer.
If we do not restore the worth of New York’s minimal wage earlier than indexing it, we might be coding poverty pay and the present eroded minimal wage for precisely the employees who maintain our state afloat, leaving Black girls additional behind than ever. As an alternative, New York can uplift 2.9 million employees to assist them modify to rising prices proper now and afford the assets wanted to assist their households. Meaning extra spending and extra money to tax.
An financial restoration is unattainable with out working households having the means to afford fundamental wants by supporting small and native companies. Implementing a $21.25 listed wage provides them the power and safety to do this now and sooner or later.
Plus it is widespread! New polling from Information For Progress reveals that 80% of New York voters — 89% of Democrats, 82% of independents, and 65% of Republicans — agree that employees in at the moment’s atmosphere want far more than $15 an hour, and assist my laws with Senate Labor Chair Jessica Ramos to lift the minimal wage to $21.25, after which introduce computerized will increase every year after that.
Ready too lengthy to revive a good minimal wage hinders our financial restoration and preparedness, and reverses victories already gained to assist uplift Black minimal wage employees. Taking motion now will strengthen our workforce, assist small companies and shrink the racial wealth hole—remodeling our economic system to develop into extra resilient and simply.
Ten years in the past, New York led the nation as the primary state to take motion in response to the worker-of-color-led struggle for $15 motion, embodying Dr. King’s dedication to financial and racial justice. Allow us to show our dedication to racial and financial justice as soon as once more and struggle for $21.25.
Joyner is chair of the Meeting Labor Committee.