Hawkins Faults Cuomo for Delaying Convening of Minimum Wage Board, despite post-Moreland News Release
Hawkins Pushes $15 an hour Minimum Wage, 100% Clean Energy by 2030
(Albany, NY) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today he would use his administrative powers to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Hawkins faulted Cuomo for his continued foot dragging on providing a wage hike for food tip workers.
Hawkins also called for New York to invest in transforming New York's economy to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 as outlined in a study by Prof. Jacobson of StanfordUniversity and several Cornell professors. Hawkins said that this would provide enough living wage jobs to put all New Yorkers to work.
Earlier in the day Hawkins became the first statewide Green Party candidate to be considered for endorsement by the state Public Employees Federation, speaking to their state meeting.
The Green Party is helping to mobilize New Yorkers to participate in the largest climate change protest in history on September 21 in NYC. Hundreds of thousands are expected to demand greater action by the US and other world governments to reduce global warming.
"Food tip workers have already lost tens of millions in wages due to Cuomo's delay. The board should hold its two required public hearings on the adequacy of the minimum wage by Labor Day, and make its recommendations soon afterward. And the Board should recommend a higher minimum wage for all workers," said Hawkins, a Teamster who unloads trucks at night for UPS.
"Cuomo cynically used food tip workers to try to change media coverage after the Moreland story broke, just like he flew off to Israel on Monday. Workers and the taxpayers are the big losers from Cuomo's talk but no action on the minimum wage and ethics reform," said Hawkins.
Hawkins has called for an investigation of the massive donations Cuomo has raised in his re-election effort, especially from real estate firms, hedge funds linked to charter schools, and the fracking and gambling industries.
Cuomo delayed announcing the formation of a minimum wage board for more than a year after being directed to do so by the state legislature. Hawkins said the July 24 announcement on the minimum wage board was part of the flurry of press releases he issued in a desperate attempt to divert attention after the NY Times ran an in-depth story on interference by the Cuomo administration in the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
The Governor has apparently failed to follow through on his press release and actually convene the minimum wage board. State labor law requires the Board to complete its work within 45 days after it is convened, which would be the week after Labor Day if he had actually convened it on July 24.
“At this rate, Cuomo will avoid delay addressing the minimum wage for tip workers until after the election,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said that more workers and strong consumer representatives should be added to the three members that Cuomo listed in his news release. Hawkins said that New York should join California and six other states in eliminating the tip credit that reduces the minimum wage.
If elected Governor, Hawkins said he would administratively raise the minimum wage to a level adequate to support workers – a minimum of $15 an hour. The Governor also has the power to raise the minimum wage locally to reflect living costs. Hawkins said that unlike Cuomo he supported giving local governments the full power to set a higher minimum wage in their communities.
Hawkins also said he would take action to crack down on the epidemic of wage theft in the state, which is estimated to cost low-income workers just in NYC more than a billion dollars annually. Cuomo this year refused to add more labor department staff in the state budget to cut down on the two year backlog of wage theft cases. Instead his administration cut in half the amount of time (from 6 years to 3) that it would seek to recover lost wages for when workers filed complaints.
Hawkins supports legislation to make it easier for workers to collect when they file cases for stolen wages, including the ability to file liens. Hawkins and Ramon Jimenez, the Green's Attorney General candidate, would also hold bosses criminally liable for wage theft.
Hawkins called for a ban on hydrofracking of natural gas in his 2010 campaign for Governor. A co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance, which fought the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire, Hawkins has long advocated a shut down of nuclear power plants, starting immediately with Indian Point.
"New York has the technical and economic capacity to convert its economy to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 with current commercially available technology. What we have lacked is the political will and leadership. The clock is rapidly running out on taking action on climate change. Voters need to vote for climate action this November by voting Green," said Hawkins.
Hawkins opposes any investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas pipelines and power plants, LNG port terminals, liquefied propane and butane and natural gas storage in the Seneca Lake salt caverns, and crude oil heaters at the Port of Albany. He supports a halt to the crude oil “bomb” trains that increasingly traverse NYS.
Hawkins has long faulted Cuomo's DEC for failing to require a formal environmental review of the expansion of oil shipments and crude oil boiler processing at the Port of Albany, which will total an estimated 2.8 billion gallons of crude oil annually. Albany's Mayor recently called DEC's record of enforcement "toothless," and called for DEC to re-open its regulatory review of the project.