New York, University Of California Announce $15 Minimum Wage

Jul 22, 2015
Originally published on July 23, 2015 2:41 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In cities across the country, minimum wages have been rising - Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Seattle - and at businesses, including Wal-Mart and IKEA. Well, today, about 3,000 workers in California got a wage hike and some in New York might get one soon. NPR's Sam Sanders has the latest.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: The University of California System announced today that it will increase base pay for employees and contract workers to $15 an hour over the next two years. UC spokesperson Dianne Klein says in California people need the money.

DIANNE KLEIN: Certain areas of California are very expensive to live in and, you know, frankly, the state minimum wage of $9 an hour just doesn't cut it in a lot of places.

SANDERS: And Klein said the UC system needed to take action because some contract workers were being paid less than minimum wage. Klein says the hike will cost the UC system $14 million a year, but she's OK with that.

KLEIN: Is it more expensive? Yes. Often doing right is more expensive, but I think not doing right is more detrimental in the long run.

SANDERS: Today in New York, a panel appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo recommended the minimum wage for fast food workers in the state be raised as well to $15 an hour. It comes after waves of protests there. The state commissioner of labor can accept, reject or modify the recommendation. In spite of a recent wave of wage hikes throughout the country, there are many voices against them. Business interests say they could lead to employers cutting jobs or businesses moving to places with lower wages. But in New York City, at least, even some business interests think raising fast food worker wages is a good thing.

MARK FARRIS: You know, it's long past due for a minimum wage hike. It's time.

SANDERS: That's Mark Farris. He's president of the New York City Chamber of Commerce. He says 70 percent of members said they support a wage hike in a recent survey. Farris said he's seen that wage increases can actually bring people back into the labor force, and that's good for his members. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.