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Cuomo Pushes For Minimum Wage Increase At Solvay Rally

Scott Willis

Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Solvay on Wednesday to speak with labor and community leaders about a proposal to raise the minimum wage.  His message: a salary of $18,000 – about the annual income for a minimum wage worker – isn't enough to cover the necessary expenses in the state of New York.

"You can't pay for food and rent and clothing and medical and heat and electric," Cuomo said. "It just doesn't work. Do the math."

Cuomo returned to Central New York as part of a public push for his "Fight For Fair Pay" campaign, a statewide call to action to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour.  He points out that an increase to $10.50 would be a raise for about 56,000 workers in Central New York, according to data from the New York State Department of Labor.

New York's minimum wage is at $8.75 per hour and will go up another 25 cents at the end of the year.  It's part of a state agreement Cuomo signed back in 2012 that incrementally increases the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.    

Credit Scott Willis

"This is about shared success," Cuomo said. "This is about the middle class and the working families and the top end all doing well together.  That is the best way to grow this state and grow this economy and that is the fairest way to do it. The income inequality, the duality is unhealthy for community."

But the governor suggests that the current plan for minimum wage increases don't do enough to keep up with the rising cost of living in New York.    

"You can look at this economy and say, you know what, this economy is creating more billionaires and more millionaires than ever before," Cuomo said. "And maybe that's an economic success. But that's not success in our book."

Cuomo was joined at the rally by Ann Marie Talerico, the president of UNITE HERE 150 and Central New York Area Labor Federation.  Talerico supported Cuomo's proposal because she said that hotel and restaurant workers that she's worked with are receiving the same wages as 20 years ago.

Said Talerico, "Workers don't want handouts. Workers want to go to work every day, do their job and get paid a fair wage. "