Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision Tuesday to raise minimum pay for all New York state workers to $15 an hour underscores the powerful role governors and local governments can play in shaping the national wage fight.
To date, no other state has enacted a $15 public sector minimum wage. "It's a groundbreaking move," said Connie Razza, director of strategic research at the Center for Popular Democracy. The center conducts research and helps organizers on public policy issues including the minimum wage.
About 10,000 state employees will benefit from the governor's decision, and higher pay will take effect incrementally in a phase-in schedule — from year's end through 2021.
Cuomo's unique move is "exactly the kind of steps that governments and mayors can be taking right away, even as we move to raise the minimum wage for all workers through legislative or electoral means," Razza said.