Fight for 15 is here.The
An estimated 15,000 low wage workers are expected to strike today across New York City, demanding a $15 minimum wage.
The New York City workers join fast food workers, college students, adjunct professors, home health workers and other minimum wage workers, who are set to protest in 200 cities across the world. Protesters took to the Boston streets a day early out of respect for the Boston Marathon bombing anniversary.
“It’s going to be beautiful and historic,” said Shantel Walker, 31, of the mass mobilization.
Walker, who has worked for Papa John’s since 1999, makes $9 an hour as a shift manager at a Bushwick store.
“I’ve worked there for a long time, I feel change has to happen,” Walker said. “With $15 an hour, I’ll be able to afford the things I need, housing, transportation money, getting clothes for different seasons and living a little bit more comfortably.”
“The minimum wage should be $15 an hour. Who can live off of $9, $10 an hour?,” said Patricia O’Hara, a home health care worker. “You have to put in more than 40 hours just to make a halfway decent salary, and I challenge anyone who begs to differ to show me how to budget myself, what I’m doing wrong that I can’t survive (on $10 an hour).”
O’Hara, who was inspired to go into healthcare after surviving cancer, and watching her father die from Parkinson’s, said she works eight to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, to make ends meet.
“We have to give up a lot of things, we deserve it, and i think its time we get this,” O’Hara, who also serves as an 1199 SEIU delegate, said of the increase.
New York’s minimum wage is $8.75 and is set to increase to $9 next year, and minimum wage for tipped wage workers will increase to $7.50 at the end of this year. A proposal in front of the New York State Assembly would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12.75 in 2017, $13.75 in 2018 and the coveted $15 a hour by 2019.
A $15 minimum wage would lead to $10 billion more a year in wages for an estimated 1.5 million city workers by 2019, according to a report released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Tuesday.
“The question should no longer be whether the minimum wage should be increased in New York City, but by how much,” Stringer said in a statement. “A $15 per-hour wage would put billions into the pockets of working families who need it the most.”
Stringer’s report also found the higher minimum wage would lower the amount the city spends on social programs, increase the amount city income tax by $250 million and lead to an annual household income increase of $10,000.
The boost also has the potential to reduce the number of New Yorkers who pay more than half their income on rent by 90,000.
The city minimum wage, when adjusted for cost of living, is the lowest in the country, Stringer said.