Syracuse-area Groups Join Effort to Raise the Minimum Wage

Jun 5, 2014

A Syracuse coalition of community advocates, elected officials, and labor groups have joined a statewide campaign to raise the minimum wage as the legislative session begins to wind down.  

Activists gather in front of a Burger King on Erie Blvd. E. to call for a hike in the minimum wage.
Activists gather in front of a Burger King on Erie Blvd. E. to call for a hike in the minimum wage.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

They gathered in front of a fast food restaurant on Erie Boulevard Thursday to kick off their effort, which also includes empowering local governments to enact their own higher wages.  Citizen Action Organizing Director Rosemary Rivera says Governor Cuomo has said he supports a statewide minimum of $10.10 an hour, up from the current $8.00.

"That, along with local wage authorization...let's say Stephanie Miner decides that she could use this to raise the wages, maybe she can do it through sectors, etcetera.  There's a whole host of people out there who are living and struggling in poverty."

Rivera says 77,000 low-wage workers in Onondaga County work hard every day but just can’t make ends meet.  The coalition is singling out Senator Dave Valesky as one key to passage of a higher minimum wage. 

Valesky says he's supported increases in the minimum wage, marriage equality, women's reproductive rights, among others.  Plus, he says there are some mainline democrats who don't support those measures, so it's hard for him to find fault with his GOP colleagues on the IDC.  Advocates hope lawmakers take up the minimum wage matter in the final two weeks of session.