On May Day, International Workers Day: Hawkins Supports $15 Hour Minimum Wage

On May Day, International Workers Day: Hawkins Supports $15 Hour Minimum Wage

Hawkins slammed Cuomo for refusing for more than a year to convene a minimum wage board to provide a wage hike to tip workers despite this being part of the wage agreement last year with the legislature. State labor law allows the Governor to administratively raise the minimum wage without the need for legislative approval.

Hawkins Supports $15 Hour Minimum Wage, Stronger Action on Wage Theft

Calls for Immigrant Rights, Including Drivers Licenses and Local Voting Rights

(Utica) Howie Hawkins, speaking at a May Day "Fight for Fifteen" demonstration in Utica, said today that he would use his power as Governor to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour, indexed to increases in worker productivity, and would crack down on the epidemic of wage theft in the state.

Hawkins slammed Cuomo for refusing for more than a year to convene a minimum wage board to provide a wage hike to tip workers despite this being part of the wage agreement last year with the legislature. State labor law allows the Governor to administratively raise the minimum wage without the need for legislative approval.

Hawkins said that he was a strong supporter of immigrant rights, recognizing the important contribution they make to the state's economy. In addition to passage of the Dream Act, he would provide driver's licenses and ID to undocumented immigrants and restore the voting rights that New York once extended to all immigrants. He called for passage of a bill to extend to farm workers, most of them immigrants, the same rights under law that other workers have.

He noted that undocumented workers are often victimized by wage theft.

"Cuomo has driven the agenda of the 1%, attacking workers while providing tax cuts and giveaways to the special interests. The Hawkins administration will focus on raising the standard of living for all New Yorkers, including providing a living wage job to everyone who can't find one in the private sector," said Hawkins, a member of the Teamsters Union who unload trucks for UPS.

The State has a backlog of two years in wage theft cases. Cuomo has refused to fund more Labor investigators to deal with the backlog. Cuomo claims that his office has done a great job, last year collecting $23 million in wage theft cases, yet it is estimated that wage theft in NYC alone costs workers a billion dollars a year. Hawkins supports the SWEAT bill pushed by low-income worker advocates to strengthen the ability of workers to collect judgments in wage theft cases, including the right to file a wage lien against employers guilty of wage theft.

The US Attorney -- not the state -- recently indicted Cong. Grimm of Staten Island for wage theft from his restaurant workers.

"For many workers, the minimum wage remains a goal rather than a floor. Politicians love to tout the value of work but they do little to ensure that workers receive a fair wage for their efforts," added Hawkins.

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