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Battle for $15 Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers Heats Up at Hearings

Amanda Cohen testified before the Wage Board today to show her support.

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Hundreds of fast food workers along with fair pay advocate and queen of the vegetables Amanda Cohen gathered before the state Wage Board today to show their support for a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food workers. This is the board's second hearing since Governor Cuomo tasked it with providing recommendations for a new minimum wage. Cohen testified saying: "Raising the minimum wage would make the restaurant industry a stronger and more stable sector of the city's economy." Several fast food workers also testified, sharing stories of the challenges of making ends meet on the salary from jobs that pay a lowly $8.75 an hour.

The board won't make its recommendation until next month, but at least one city official has spoken out for it. City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a new report today saying that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would give food-service workers an extra $1.3 billion in wages a year, that comes out to about $139 a week or about $7,200 dollars a year, per employee. "Raising the wage for fast-food workers is essential for working families in New York City," he told the Daily News. "There's no question. A higher minimum wage is one of the most effective steps that we can take to combat income inequality and move people toward the middle class."

Still, many restaurant owners are worried about staying open and keeping their staff on. Seventy two percent of owners told a surveyor they plan to raise prices and nearly half of the 500 owners asked said they might have to close. A hearing on Long Island is scheduled for this week and another hearing in Albany will take place during the week of June 22. Stay tuned.