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NYC wage rally: workers want pay equivalent to wages in Seattle
Members of a group pushing for a higher minimum wage gathered in Herald Square Sunday to prod New York City to follow Seattle's lead and set $15 an hour pay.
Organizers with "15 Now" and Socialist Alternative said that it is past time to nearly double the $8 an hour minimum in the state, which will go to $8.75 on Dec. 31.
"Even $15 an hour is not enough in a city like New York," said Eljeer Hawkins, 40, a surgical technician from Rego Park, who brought his 5-year-old son to the Father's Day rally.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he would support a statewide jump to $10.10, and allow local governments to increase that minimum by as much as 30%. But receptive passers-by who added their names to petitions in favor of a wage increase suggested that politicians have little understanding of what life is like on the lower rungs of the nation's costliest city.
"I used to do retail and I made $10 an hour," said Avril Key, 24, a Flushing medical technician. "There will be more money all around for everyone," if the minimum wage is almost doubled, she said.
"People have kids they need to take care of!" added Catherine Garba, 40, a retail supervisor from the Bronx and a mother of three. Current wages, she said, are not nearly enough to cover the rising cost of "food, clothing and school fees." Organizers said they had collected about 1,300 of 5,000 signatures they plan to present to the City Council by summer's end. Business owners have warned that such a steep increase would cause them to hire fewer workers, automate more job functions, and, in some cases, relocate.