The labor protest movement that fast-food workers in New York City began nearly three years ago has led to higher wages for workers all across the country. On Wednesday, it paid off for the people who started it.
A panel appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recommended on Wednesday that the minimum wage be raised for employees of fast-food chain restaurants throughout the state to $15 an hour over the next few years. Wages would be raised faster in New York City than in the rest of the state to account for the higher cost of living there.
The panel?s recommendations, which are expected to be put into effect by an order of the state?s acting commissioner of labor, represent a major triumph for the advocates who have rallied burger-flippers and fry cooks to demand pay that covers their basic needs. They argued that taxpayers were subsidizing the workforces of some multinational corporations, like McDonald?s, that were not paying enough to keep their workers from relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits.
The $15 wage would represent a raise of more than 70 percent for workers earning the state?s current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. Advocates for low-wage workers said they believed the mandate would quickly spur raises for employees in other industries across the state, and a jubilant Mr. Cuomo predicted that other states would follow his lead.
?When New York acts, the rest of the states follow,? said Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, citing the state?s passage of the law making same-sex marriage legal. ?We?ve always been different, always been first, always been the most progressive.?
The decision, announced in a conference room in Lower Manhattan, set off a raucous celebration by hundreds of workers and union leaders outside.
Flavia Cabral, 53, a grandmother from the Bronx who works part-time in a McDonald?s for $8.75 an hour, pointed out the scars where fry baskets had seared her forearms. ?At least they listened to us,? she said, referring to the panel. ?We?re breathing little by little.?
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