A higher minimum wage will mean more money in the pockets of workers which builds a thriving economy.
The newly elected mayor of New York City has come out strong against corporate welfare and income inequality, and he has a plan to help remedy them. During an interview with WNYC reporter Brian Lehrer, Mayor Bill de Blasio said,
“If we’re subsidizing companies, we have every right to demand a living wage for the people they pay.”
DeBlasio set his sights, more specifically, on the fast food industry. In October, a report found that American taxpayers hand out over $3.8 billion every year to help subsidize workers pay for the countries top 10 largest fast food chains. The subsidies include welfare to help supplement their workers’ poverty wages, SNAP benefits so they can afford to eat, and Medicaid so that they do not die from a preventable illness. All while raking in record profits year after year.
The increased awareness led to a historic walk out of non-unionized workers. Among their strongest supporters was de Blasio. Prior to his election,he joined fast food employees during protests in which they demanded a higher minimum wages, benefits and a union. While the walk out was not immediate successful, they did change the conversation in America to a much more pressing issue. One that de Blasio heard loud and clear. At the time, he said,
“The bottom line is, this is an unsupportable situation where every day hard-working people can’t meet, and the companies involved certainly can do more.”
Americans have built a cynicism towards what a politician says versus what they will actually do, and for good reason. When we vote, we make the best choice possible then hope we made the right choice. DeBlasio is not that kind of politician. Instead, he took to heart the anger and frustration of low-wage employees and wants to create laws that would help level the playing field.
The mayor is expected to soon introduce legislation expanding living wage protections to New York. Under a proposal introduced this past summer, de Blasio would raise the wage for employees at companies receiving city subsidies–including some retail and fast-food restaurants–to $11.75 an hour with benefits.
De Blasio said during the WNYC interview that he will fully unveil his plan to combat income inequality during next weeks State of the City address.
Another possible plan that de Blasio is considering is asking Albany to allow New York City the power to set its own minimum wage. This idea is a lot like the one that would split California into two different states. New York City is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world. The needs of the people in the city differ greatly from the rest of the state. Even at $11.75 an hour, trying to support a family would still be at a poverty level.
If de Blasio is granted the right to set his own minimum wage, it could give the city the power it needs to reduce income inequality. A higher minimum wage will mean more money in the pockets of workers which builds a thriving economy. While Republicans will try to argue the theory that a higher minimum wage would mean less jobs, the facts simply say otherwise. De Blasio and the Democratic Party are on the right side of this issue. The question is, will enough Americans create enough noise to force Congress to do the right thing by them?
This post originally appeared at Occupy Democrats. Reprinted with permission.
Photo: AP/Mike Groll