Support Candidates Who Back a Minimum Wage Hike

New York has the worst inequality in the nation, and we need to do something about it. When you cast your ballot on Nov. 4, back candidates who support a strong minimum wage increase.

It’s almost Election Day. And while New Yorkers are considering the candidates for State Senate, they should keep in mind that we’ve got a right-now opportunity to significantly raise New York’s minimum wage – if we elect the candidates who support it.

The contrast between fast-food workers who live in homeless shelters with their kids and CEOs who take helicopters to the Hamptons for the weekend is too sharp and too severe to overlook.

New York has the worst inequality in the nation, and we need to do something about it.

In the Hudson Valley, on Long Island, in the Capital Region and across New York, you can’t work full time at the current $8-an-hour minimum wage and make enough to afford to live in the average one-bedroom apartment. And according to the Coalition for the Homeless, one in three families now living in homeless shelters have a parent who’s working.

It’s alarmingly clear that job growth is disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs in industries like fast-food service and retail. Right now, New York is only growing low-wage jobs – there’s no other area of employment that’s actually adding more workers on a net basis.

It’s long past time for lawmakers to take action to help working New Yorkers who’ve been left behind by the rise of the rich and the superrich.

A Public Policy Polling opinion poll last week showed two-thirds of New Yorkers surveyed would be more likely to support State Senate candidates who support a strong increase in the minimum wage.

Thousands of New Yorkers have asked State Senate Republicans to reconsider their opposition to the minimum wage package backed by Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders that would boost the statewide minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, index it for inflation, and allow high-cost areas to consider raising wages up to 30 percent higher.

We’ve asked many Republican candidates trying to get elected to the Senate to support a strong minimum wage increase.

They’ve all said no.

In contrast, Democratic State Senate candidates universally support the “Raise Up New York” wage increase. They agree that it would provide exactly the kind of economic boost for the household budgets of regular people that’s needed right now.

Cities and counties that have tried strong minimum wage boosts – including San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in the Maryland suburbs – have seen their local economies thrive.

And these wage boosts really help women and moms: adult women are the single biggest demographic among minimum-wage workers. Roughly 75 percent of workers in the ten lowest-paid occupations are women.

Low-wage workers need a raise – and women in particular need a raise.

Getting from $8 per hour up to $10.10 and $13.13 per hour would be literally life changing for struggling families: it’s the difference between making the rent and not making the rent. It’s the difference between struggling in poverty and moving forward, out of poverty.

And the spending boost for consumers and local businesses would be strong and significant.

This year in Albany, Senate Republicans blocked the minimum wage increase while voting to eliminate the bank tax and to give a big estate tax break to the heirs and heiresses of millionaire and billionaire parents. They’re making inequality worse, not better.

Next week voters can do something for the millions of struggling New Yorkers who need help and boost the economy at the same time — by voting for candidates who’ll increase the minimum wage.

Lewis is the Westchester lead organizer for Community Voices Heard Power and Lipscomb is a board member for CVH Power and a Westchester resident.