One Step Forward for Decent Wages

This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio made a significant step forward for the betterment of living conditions for New Yorkers, when he signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $13.13 an hour for workers of companies receiving city subsidies. With this measure, New York joins the growing number of local governments that have taken the bull by the horns in the face of Congress’ irresponsible inaction about decent wages, among many other issues.

Although every state has the authority to determine the minimum wage for its own workforce, it’s Congress which does so at the national level. The last time that happened was in 2009, setting it at $7.25.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group that analyses the nation’s economic decisions, has pointed out that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would lift almost one million people out of poverty.

A bill introduced by the Democrats at the House of Representatives seeks just that, but the Republican majority has blocked it.

Last year, the New York State Assembly approved a series of statewide wage increases that will set the minimum wage at $8.75 in December 2014, and $9 since December 31, 2015. A proposal by the Working Families party seeks a hike to $10.10, while allowing cities to further increasing it by 30%. The plan’s approval depends on how the November elections will shape the state’s two legislative chambers.

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo can take inspiration from Mayor De Blasio’s example. An executive order raising the wages for workers of companies that receive state government subsidies would benefit thousands of New Yorkers who struggle to make ends meet with their meager salaries. The Governor can do it; we hope he will