A dozen lawmakers rallied alongside about 50 people at a midtown McDonald's Thursday to advocate for raising the minimum wage.
The group wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to allow localities to raise their minimum wages above the state's current $8 standard. Supporters of the minimum wage bill say the fast food industry generates many low-paying jobs. They also said the low-wage crisis disproportionately affects black and Latino workers.
Last year, the minimum wage was increased from $7.25 and will hit $9 by the end of 2015.
The governor's office did not comment about the rally.
Mayor Bill de Blasio in his State of the City speech in February said he would ask Gov. Cuomo to allow New York City to set its own minimum wage, but Cuomo so far has not supported the idea.
Advocates said the minimum wage should not be the same throughout a state in which the cost of living can vary wildly.
Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn, who co-sponsored the legislation, described a listing for a one-bedroom apartment in Binghamton, N.Y., that cost $875 per month.
"Do any of you know of an apartment or even a room that you can find in New York City for $875?" he said. "Clearly, Binghamton has a lower cost of living."
Maurice Royal, 31, has worked at several Burger Kings and other chain restaurants. He said he has struggled with low wages and has been a victim of wage theft by the restaurants.
Royal, who lives in a homeless shelter, is trying to save up enough money to rent a room or studio apartment.
"All the customers get when they come in is a meal and a smile," he said. "They should understand what goes on behind closed doors."
Several other legislators from around the city showed their support for the bill and said they would push for its passage in the Legislature.
"How can we expect hardworking men and women to save for their futures and lift themselves out of poverty if they can barely afford the Big Macs they're serving?" Assemblyman Francisco Moya of Queens said.