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Queens Chronicle

Council calls for local minimum wage power

State would have to approve request

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:57 am, Thu May 22, 2014.

The City Council on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on the state to allow municipalities to set their own minimum wage standards.

The final vote was 44-4. An email from the Council stated that Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) opposed the measure.

The national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. New York State went to $8 on Jan. 1, and will hit $9 by Dec. 31, 2015.

At a rally outside of City Hall prior to the vote, Councilmen Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) joined a group of fast-food workers and their supporters .

The rally coincided with a strike by fast-food workers in 150 U.S. cities and 30 countries to protest low pay. The councilmen and Comptroller Scott Stringer said the city should be able to set a higher minimum wage within its borders.

“Residents who make minimum wage, most of whom are black, Latino and women, deserve a better quality of life through higher pay,” Dromm said in a statement issued by his office. “It is more expensive to live in New York City than anywhere else in the state and it only makes sense that the minimum wage reflects that reality.”

Miller too said the move is necessary to allow workers to afford the cost of living in the five boroughs. He and Dromm introduced the bill in April.

The press release did not quote either of them as supporting a specific dollar amount.

“Urgent action is needed to ensure that a full day’s work does not leave families deciding whether to pay the rent or put food on the table,” Stringer said.

Seattle this year adopted legislation that will phase in a $15-an-hour minimum wage over three to seven years, based on the size of the company.

Critics say raising the minimum wage too high might cause some employers to rely more on automation.

Neither Dromm nor representatives of the New York Restaurant Association could be reached for comment.

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