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New York could OK $15 fast-food wage this week: Report

A New York state board is scheduled to weigh in on fast-food wages on Wednesday.

Citing a person familiar with the plans, The Wall Street Journal said the Wage Board is expected to recommend lifting the state's fast-food minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The state's hourly minimum is $8.75, and will reach $9 by the end of the year. The board—created at the urging of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo—has the power to raise wages for state fast-food workers without legislative approval. Any potential increase could affect hundreds of industry employees.

Within the fast-food industry, McDonald's in April announced it would be raising wages for U.S. store-owned locations to higher than $10 an hour by the end of 2016. Other big corporations that have moved independently to lift wages within the past year include Target, Wal-Mart, Gap and TJX Companies.

A raise for New York fast-food workers is "very important and will galvanize the movement to raise wages significantly around the country," said Holly Sklar, chief executive at wage advocacy group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.

Franchise groups oppose higher minimum wages.

The International Franchise Association—the franchise industry's largest trade group—says their concerns include how long businesses would have to implement any potential raise.

"This is a social experiment," said Matt Haller, a spokesman for the association. "This will drive businesses from the state."

A McDonald's employee sweeps up in front of a restaurant on the morning when thousands of people took to the street to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour on April 15, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
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A McDonald's employee sweeps up in front of a restaurant on the morning when thousands of people took to the street to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour on April 15, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The actions of the state wage board will be closely watched as wage-hike supporters hope to build momentum for a federal minimum of $15 an hour from the current $7.25.

Cities including Seattle and Chicago have taken it upon themselves to hike wages above the federal minimum.

"Whatever the wage board comes back with it has to be accepted," said Cuomo during a a non-wage related event Sunday.

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