Minimum Wage: Hawkins Slams Cuomo's "Chaotic" Opposition to Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage: Hawkins Slams Cuomo's "Chaotic" Opposition to Minimum Wage

Local communities should have home rule power to raise the minimum wage above the state level.

Minimum Wage: Hawkins Slams Cuomo's "Chaotic" Opposition to Local Control

Howie Hawkins, who is seeking the Green Party nomination for Governor, announced today that he supports giving local communities the power to raise the minimum wage above the state level.

Governor Cuomo recently announced that he opposed local control on the grounds that having communities with different minimum wages would lead to "chaos," forcing companies and workers to relocate.

"We already have chaos from the sub poverty wage provided by Governor 1%," noted Hawkins, a Teamster who supports a $15 minimum wage. "Cuomo's low wage base leads to hunger, poverty and homelessness. Local communities should be able to set adequate wages that reflect local costs of living," added Hawkins.

"Cuomo has kept up his unrelenting attack on working New Yorkers since his election. He has promoted austerity for the 99% while attacking union and public employees like teachers. For two years he did his best to derail the effort to raise the state minimum wage despite overwhelming public support," said Hawkins.

Cuomo's efforts resulted in what Hawkins called "the dumbest minimum wage law in the world. It not only keeps a sub-poverty wage level reaching just $9 at the end of three years, but it also provides tax subsidies for businesses who pay the minimum wage and not a penny more to 16 to 19 year olds, thus creating the perverse incentives of an effective wage ceiling for teenage workers and an incentive to fire them when they turn 20 in order to get the subsidy for a new teenaged worker."

Hawkins also attacked Cuomo for his refusal to convene a minimum wage board that was included in the minimum wage deal last year in order to provide a wage hike for tip workers in the food industry.

Hawkins also faulted Cuomo on his poor performance on wage theft, which cost low-income workers just in New York City an estimated billion dollars a year. Despite a two-year 15,000 case backlog in wage theft cases at the State Department of Labor, Cuomo failed to provide any increased funding for labor investigators in his proposed budget. Hawkins said he supports the proposed SWEAT legislation to strengthen the ability of workers to collect lost wages, such as allowing them to file wage liens against employers when they win their cases (similar to mechanic liens.)

Earlier this week Cuomo's Department of Labor issued a news release seeking to defend their poor performance on wage theft cases. They proudly cited that they had help collect "nearly $23 million to more than 12,700 workers who were not paid their proper minimum wage, overtime pay or fringe benefits." It is estimated that wage theft just in NYC costs low-income workers a billion dollars a year. Cuomo also took credit for a slight decrease in the number of open cases (15,000 open cases according to a DOL FOI) by cutting the time period they will seek to collect for wage theft in half (from 6 years to just 3 years).

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