NY State Wage Board Recommends $15/Hour Pay By 2021 For Fast Food Workers

The New York state Dept. of Labor panel tasked with reviewing fast food wages in the Empire State today released its recommendation for a plan to increase pay for workers at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, and others to $15/hour over the next six years, and even sooner for workers in New York City.

In May, after the state’s Acting Commissioner of Labor declared [PDF] that “fast food workers… are receiving wages insufficient to provide adequate maintenance and to protect their health,” Governor Andrew Cuomo asked the DOL to convene a wage board specifically to investigate and make recommendations on a possible increase in the minimum wage paid to the state’s fast food workers.

In a resolution [PDF] released today, recommended a timeline that would raise fast food wages to a minimum of $15/hour in New York City by Dec. 31, 2018. Increases would be phased in on the final day of each year: $10.50 on Dec. 31, 2015; $12 at the end of 2016; $13.50 in 2017; and finally $15 on New Year’s Eve 2018.

Restaurants outside the city would have more time, with July 1, 2021 being the proposed deadline. Again there would be annual planned increases: $9.75 on Dec. 31, 2015; $10.75 at the end of 2016;
$11.75 in 2017; $12.75 in 2018; $13.75 in 2019; $14.50 in 2020; and $15 on July 1, 2021.

Obviously the bigger name-brand chains would be included in this increase, but the board uses the term “Fast Food Establishment” to indicate any establishment in the state where “patrons order or select items and pay before eating and such items may be consumed on the premises, taken out, or delivered”, which offers limited service, is part of a chain, and is one of 30 or more establishments nationally.

A handful of major cities, including Los Angeles and Seattle, have voted to phase in minimum wage increases that would eventually bring up the general minimum wage for workers in those cities.

If approved by the Acting Commissioner as recommended, the wage board’s plan would cover around 70% of New York workers earning the state’s current minimum wage of $8.75/hour.

McDonald’s recently moved to increase the amount it pays to employees at company-owned restaurants, but that only impacts about 10% of the company’s U.S. workforce, most of whom are employed at franchisee-operated stores.