8:06 PM Eastern - Friday, July 24, 2015

Reflections from the New York Fast Food Wage Board #default

NY Wage Board Members.jpg

As one of the three members of the New York Fast Food Wage Board, I had the privilege of announcing our historic recommendation: $15 an hour for fast food workers.

Over the course of two months, I heard stories from hundreds of fast food workers from all across the state. Stories of poverty and barely making it despite doing their best, and it was downright devastating. The emotion and reality of the poverty was overwhelming. One brave woman said, "Democracy should not be synonymous with poverty."

She was right. When did it become okay in America for corporations to treat workers as commodities?

Fast food cooks and cashiers work irregular hours (rarely more than 25 per week). They can't seek another job because they are always on call. They can't get more hours because of the corporate computer modeling of staffing, making them invisible as people.

The hearings gave them a voice. And we responded.

Governor Cuomo deserves credit for empowering this board to fulfill the true mission of government: stepping in when the private sector fails to serve the common good. Now it's time for other elected leaders in cities and states across the nation to follow Gov. Cuomo's lead and take action to raise wages to $15 for all working people.

Read the opinion article Byron Brown, Kevin Ryan, and I - all three members of the Wage Board - published following our recommendation.

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