Hawkins: Minimum Wage Board should Support $15 an hour, end tip deduction, take action on wage theft
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, called today for the newly appointed minimum wage board to raise the wage to at least $15 an hour.
The minimum wage board was announced today after Cuomo had delayed action for more than 14 months, despite being directed by lawmakers to provide a hike to food tip workers excluded from last year's minimum wage deal.
"If it took the NY Times story on the Moreland Commission to push Cuomo to create some positive news, we hope that the media will release weekly exposes of the Governor so he actually does his job. Hopefully unlike the Moreland Commission, the minimum wage board won't allow Cuomo to push it around and will fulfill its statutory responsibility to provide adequate compensation to workers. That is certainly much higher than the sub poverty wage of $9 that lawmakers agreed to last year," stated Hawkins, who unloads trucks at night for a living.
Hawkins said he supported the elimination of the tip deduction so that the base floor for tip workers was the full minimum wage. Seven states including California have eliminated the so-called tip credit. Tipped workers are more than twice as likely to fall under the federal poverty line, and nearly three times as likely to rely on food stamps, as the average worker, according to a 2011 study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Hawkins also called on the wage board to take action to address the epidemic of wage theft, which costs low-income workers more than a billion dollars a year in NYC alone. Section 653 of the state labor law requires the minimum wage board to take action to "safeguard minimum wages." In addition to strengthening enforcement of wage laws, changes are needed to help workers collect when they win orders from the labor department for stolen wages.