It's been a week of small victories for underpaid workers: first, McDonald's finally shuttered its abominable McResource site, and now New York State has announced it will increase its minimum wage to $8 an hour by 2014.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and officials say this year's increase is the first of a few. By the end of 2014, the minimum should increase to $8.75 an hour, and a year after that, it'll hold steady at $9 an hour, as dictated by the state budget Governor Andrew Cuomo approved back in March.
The increases are modest, though, and fast food workers who say they are unable to survive on their current wages have been advocating for a $15-an-hour minimum. "It’s impossible. It’s impossible for people like me," fast food worker Gregory Renoso told PIX 11 News this summer. “I have a daughter. I have to pay rent. We’re struggling.” Advocates for higher minimum wages say they will continue to petition for $10-$15-an-hour, and the Hunger Action Network called $8 "a sub-poverty wage."
Also of note: workers in the restaurant and hospitality industry who get tips will still make a $5-an-hour minimum wage. Employers can raise tip credits to $3 an hour the first year, $3.75 the following year and $4 the year after that, provided staff's combined tips and wages meet or exceed the new minimums.