It Looks Like Fast-Food Workers in New York City Could Get a Big Raise in 2018

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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04:  Protesters march through the streets demanding a raise on the minimum wage to $15 per hour on December 4, 2014 in New York, United States. The movement, driven largely by fast food workers, has risen in prominence in the past year; today's protests were also joined by demonstrators angry at the Grand jury verdict to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner in July, 2014.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A New York wage board tasked with studying the fast-food industry unanimously voted to recommend raising the minimum wage to $15 on Wednesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that his labor commissioner would give a thumbs-up to the panel’s decision, although minor changes could happen.

Cuomo appointed the board to look into the matter in May after labor protests in New York kept growing bigger and bigger the past few years; it was clear that Albany legislators weren’t going to raise the minimum wage significantly anytime soon, so he tried another strategy.

Fast-food restaurants with more than 30 locations would need to pay workers $15 by 2018; the change will apply to the whole state, according to the panel’s recommendation, by 2021. The current minimum wage in New York is $8.75. Several other cities have raised the minimum wage in the past few years — Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The fast-food industry isn’t too pleased that it has been singled out; the New York State Restaurant Association released a statement predicting doom after the news was announced. “Since the Governor used a process that rejects compromise the result is an extremist policy that will force business owners in this low profit margin industry to cut hours, lay off employees and use technology to help offset skyrocketing labor costs.”

The Working Families Party was a bit more excited.