FIGHT FOR $15: Final Wage Board Hearing
- 06/23/2015 by Camille LeBlanc (WBAI News)

On Monday, hundreds of fast food workers and small business supporters gathered before the state Wage Board in Albany for the final hearing advocating for a $15 minimum wage.

In a series of emotional testimonies, fast food workers expressed their struggles to make ends meet at $8.75/hour.

"I can't stand to think that my children will grow up worrying about whether there's going to be a roof over their heads or food in their lunchboxes," said Jareema Vanison, who works at an Albany McDonald's. “I want what every parent wants— for my kids to grow up feeling safe and secure, with a bright future—and I just can't promise that making as little as I do. That's why I urge the wage board to recommend $15.  It's not just for me, it's for my family, and it's for our future."

Those in support of raising the minimum wage for fast food workers delivered 160,000 petition signatures to the hearing.

"By sticking together and speaking out, New Yorkers are leading the way to a new standard for fast-food workers and our families across the country," said Ashona Osborne, an Arby's worker from Pittsburgh and a member of the National Organizing Committee of the Fight for $15.

The much-needed raise would not only help support the families of New York’s 182,000 fast food workers, but it would stimulate the local economy as well, from Long Island to Rochester. “Economists say that slow wage growth is the biggest problem in the American economy right now:  Governor Cuomo and the Wage Board should attack the problem head-on by boosting the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour," said Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition. "It will help workers, it will help families and it will help power the New York economy from the bottom up."

The Fight for $15 has become a national movement, existing in over 230 U.S. cities, and prevailing in progressive cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. If the wage increase is passed in New York, it will be the first statewide institution of the $15 minimum wage.

Raising the minimum wage would require the approval of the labor commissioner, but would not demand legislative consent. Governor Cuomo hopes to have a decision by next month.