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Press Release: Workers, Advocates Call on Cuomo’s Wage Board to Eliminate Sub-Minimum Wage for 230K Tipped Workers in New York

Poverty Rate Among Tipped Workers Double That of Regular Workforce


Following the first convening of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s wage board on Monday, workers and advocates called for the elimination of the sub-minimum wage for New York State’s 230,000 tipped workers at a rally in New York City.


“I can’t live on $6.40 an hour, it’s that simple,” said Jose Sanchez, 32, a pizza deliveryman who has worked at a Domino’s in Washington Heights for four years. “Domino’s says that because we make tips, that’s enough. It never is, especially when they’re pocketing some of our wages in the process. Profitable chains like Domino’s pay us so little that we have to live on food stamps and Medicaid. The Wage Board can help fix that by getting rid of the sub-minimum wage.”


Employers in New York can still pay less than the minimum wage—just $5 an hour—to restaurant servers, delivery workers, and other service workers. While employers are legally required to “top off” a tipped worker’s pay when it falls short of the regular minimum wage, lax and disorganized enforcement enables employers to routinely violate minimum wage, overtime and other wage and hour laws with minimal repercussion. 

Tipped Workers Welcome Newly-Announced “Wage Board,” Urge Cuomo Admin to End Sub-Minimum Wage

A “wage order” eliminating NY’s tipped sub-minimum wage would promote fair pay for working women and raise wages for 229,000 tipped workers across the state

Albany, NY –Tipped workers called on the Cuomo administration today to use a newly-announced Wage Board to eliminate New York’s tipped sub-minimum wage, which is currently just $5.00 per hour for food service workers like restaurant servers, and $5.65 per hour for other service workers such as tipped hotel workers. By issuing an order requiring employers to directly pay tipped workers the state’s full minimum wage, the Wage Board could significantly boost pay for an estimated 229,000 low-paid tipped workers in the state – 70 percent of whom are women – according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project.
“I’ve been a busser in New York for eight years, and I earn just $5 per hour,” said Martin Sanchez, member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York. “Though I bus food for a living, I struggle to feed myself and my family especially because tips are low and inconsistent. I am glad that the Wage Board will finally address tipped workers’ wages, and I hope they will agree that we deserve a raise.”

Cuomo Convenes Wage Board

Over 200,000 tipped workers in New York need a raise, and our economy needs the bottom-up boost that raise would provide.  Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Rivera have given these three New Yorkers a real opportunity to make a big difference, and we salute their service.  We urge the Wage Board to fight New York’s worst-in-the-nation income inequality by eliminating the current sub-minimum wage and helping workers all over the state support their families and communities. -Michael Kink Exec. Director Strong Economy For All Coalition


By Jimmy Vielkind
11:31 a.m. | Jul. 24, 2014

ALBANY—Sixteen months after state lawmakers agreed to a minimum wage hike that excluded tipped workers, Governor Andrew Cuomo convened a wage board that could unilaterally raise their pay.

USA Today Study: States that raised minimum wage had stronger job growth

By: Paul Davidson

A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research attempts to undercut the argument that raising the minimum wage kills jobs.

The study, which updates a Goldman Sachs analysis to include data from April and May, shows that the 13 states that increased their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have had stronger employment growth than the 37 states that didn’t. The study compared average employment during the first five months of 2014 with the last five months of 2013.

New York City Leaders Reach Accord on $75 Billion Budget


Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, have announced an agreement on a $75 billion budget that Mr. de Blasio said signaled a more compassionate era for New York City, with investments in public housing, expanded prekindergarten programs and summer jobs for youths, but with no tax increases or major cuts.

The plan “signals the beginning of many other steps we will take to help the people of this city,” he said, speaking late Thursday in the City Hall rotunda.

IBO Budget Analysis 2015 Executive Budget

IBO Budget Analysis

Senate shakeup could result in major changes in NY

Written by
Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY — A hydrofracking moratorium, a higher minimum wage, stronger abortion protections and public financing of campaigns would top the agenda for Senate Democrats if they win a majority in November.

The decision late Wednesday by a five-member Senate Independent Democratic Conference to rejoin with Senate Democrats would have an major impact on New York policy. And it set off a war of words Thursday between Republicans and Democrats — a precursor to a bitter election fight over the next four months.

Democrats, if they win control, would push for other issues that have stalled: providing tuition assistance to immigrants in the country illegally, called the Dream Act; and allowing local governments to set their own minimum wages, up to about $13 an hour. They also want to decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Raise Up NY Slide Deck


RAISE UP NY Slide Deck


Across the Nation, Momentum Continues to Grow for Raising Wages at the Local Level as Cities Stand up to McDonald’s & Walmart

New York—Citing Seattle’s historic deal to move to a $15 / hour minimum wage, fast food workers today urged Albany lawmakers to let cities raise the state’s unlivable $8 / hour minimum wage by passing RaiseUpNY (S.6516 Stewart-Cousins/ A.9036 Camara).

“The momentum is there. The need is there. It’s time for Albany to get off the sidelines and to start standing up for the 3 million low-wage New Yorkers who are working hard, playing by the rules, and still living in poverty,” said KFC worker Naquasia LeGrand.

“Otherwise, they’re just allowing the most profitable corporations on the planet, like Walmart and McDonald’s, to pay their workers as little as possible. Our economy will never get back on track that way—and women and people of color, the majority of folks in these jobs, will never have an honest shot at the middle class.”


Cities and counties around the country including California, Arizona and Washington State have already instituted higher minimum wages and the results have been hugely positive. In each case, there was opposition, but the sky didn’t fall. Instead, workers have more money in their pockets, poverty has been reduced and economies have gotten stronger. Even better—citywide increases didn’t hamstring efforts to raise the statewide minimum. In each case, the local initiatives helped build momentum for broader wage hikes.


73% of New Yorkers –including 2/3 of voters in every region of state – support this measure, as does the Black and Latino Caucus, and more than 125 prominent women leaders, including NAACP NYS President Hazel Dukes, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York Andrea Miller, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Citizen Action Executive Director Karen Scharff, Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner, NYS League of Women Voters Executive Director Barbara Bartoletti, NYS Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D- Yonkers), NYS Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester), NYS Assembly Member Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), NYS Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo), NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) and NYS State Assembly Member Michaelle Solages (D-Long Island).

Likelihood of Success

President Obama, the Pope, Billionaire Conservative Ron Unz, striking fast food workers, and 73% of New Yorkers agree we need to raise the minimum wage to jumpstart the economy. The tide is turning, momentum is on our side, and the bottom line is that even Albany isn’t immune to the will of voters.
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Michael Kink-Strong For All Exec. Dir. Summary Notes on Tax Issues In The Budget

On the budget & inequality:
“The tax provisions in this budget provide the biggest benefits to the wealthy and to Wall Street — they’ll make our worst-in-the-nation income inequality even worse”, said Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition.  
On the elimination of the Bank Tax;
“Wall Street in New York is like oil & gas in Texas — their lobbyists usually get what they ask for.  What they got in this budget is a $350 million per year Albany bailout they don’t need and don’t deserve.”