Although the restaurant scenes in Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York City are all totally unique from one another, these cities could soon bond over one thing: a $15 minimum wage in the near future for all of their workers.
The Los Angeles initiative, which was signed into law in June, will gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 over the next five years. Seattle similarly promises to raise its minimum pay to the same number by 2021. But the wage order signed Thursday by New York's Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino starts immediately for the city's fast-food workers.
The move was announced yesterday, on the same day as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's and Vice President Joe Biden's historic bid for a statewide minimum wage hike to the same amount.
Looking at America as a whole, a staggering 40 percent of waiters are living twice below the poverty line. Servers use food stamps at twice the rate of the general workforce. Paul Sonn, the general counsel of the National Employment Law Project, told The Atlantic that the minimum wage hike could benefit up to 3 million New York residents, a group that is "[mostly] women, and half are black, Latino, or Asian-American."
Cuomo put his motives plainly: "If you work full time, you shouldn't have to live in poverty—plain and simple."
As might be expected, however, not everyone is a fan of the initiative. Some small business owners, for instance, fear having to lay off workers or reduce hours in order to comply with the adjusted wages. But perhaps the most intriguing statement against the measure came from the President of the National Restaurant Association, calling the order "an assault on an industry that has delivered nearly 800,000 jobs to the state of New York."
As it is right now, the minimum wage in New York is $8.75, which doesn't come close to meeting the cost of "comfortable" living in the Big Apple: roughly $85,000 annually, according to Business Insider. Nonetheless, Cuomo seems adamant. "We will overcome the skeptics and demonstrate to the American people that we can make this a better place, because New York is the state of possibility."