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New York panel recommends $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers

By Doug G. Ware
New York panel recommends $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers
A New York City panel on Wednesday formally recommended that the state's labor officials rise the minimum hourly wage for fast-food workers to $15 -- following similar moves in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Photo: FotograFFF/Shutterstock

NEW YORK, July 22 (UPI) -- A New York City panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday issued a formal recommendation that the state's fast-food employees receive a minimum wage of $15 per hour -- a recommendation expected to be approved by labor officials.

The panel's decision is the result of a massive labor movement that began three years ago, which has already improved pay for minimum wage workers across the United States.

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The proposal must now receive approval by state labor officials, which is expected, and should be implemented over the next few years. New York City is expected to see the wage hike sooner than most cities in the state due to its increased cost of living, the New York Times reported.

An hourly minimum of $15 would nearly double New York state's current minimum wage of $8.75 -- an amount that many employees say does not allow them to cover basic living costs.

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The panel's recommendation only affects pay in the fast-food industry, but officials believe the raise will catch on in other industries shortly.

"When New York acts, the rest of the states follow," Cuomo said, noting the state's recent legalization of same-sex marriage. "We have always been different, always been first, always been the most progressive."

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Large cities across the United States have boosted their minimum wages in recent weeks -- including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. In Washington, D.C., a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour is expected to be included on the 2016 ballot.

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The $15 hourly wage would raise a full-time employee's annual pay to more than $31,000 -- an increase from the present minimum of about $22,000.

Since 2009, the federal government has mandated a minimum wage of at least $7.25, but states are free to raise their minimums to higher levels if they wish.

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