The labor protest movement that fast-food workers started in New York City nearly four years ago is finally paying off. According to the New York Times, Governor Cuomo announced that a panel he appointed is recommending a gradual increase in minimum wages for fast-food workers to $15 an hour by 2018. All that recommendation needs now is an order from the state’s acting commissioner of labor.

Here’s the formal announcement from the Governor:

Wages will rise faster in NYC than elsewhere in the state because the cost of living is so much higher.

Here’s a breakdown of how the wage increase will gradually be phased in:

  • By December 31st, NYC minimum wage for fast food workers will rise to $10.50. In the rest of the state, it will be $9.75.
  • NYC minimum wage for fast food workers will then rise annually by $1.50 for the next 3 years, reaching $15 by the end of 2018.
  • Meanwhile, minimum wage for fast food workers elsewhere in New York state will rise by smaller amounts each year, taking until July 1, 2021 to reach $15.
  • This mandate will not apply to small businesses. It only applies to workers in fast food restaurants that are part of chains with 30 or more locations.

Irene Tung, a policy researcher for the National Employment Law Project, told the NYT:

“It will likely put pressure on employers in other industries to raise wages in order to compete for workers. It would be very attractive for somebody working at the Gap, making around $9 an hour, to look across the street and see Chipotle paying $2 or $3 or $4 more and decide that they would rather work at Chipotle,”

Some people are overjoyed about the decision

While others are critical of the move

And these folks are taking a more philosophical view

As Business Insider found last year, New York fast-food workers at the current minimum wage are worse off than all other minimum wage workers in the country. There’s a big gap between minimum wage and a living wage, which is the actual hard dollar value needed to make a living in any given area.

BI found that NY fast-food workers made nearly $4,750 per year below the amount they actually needed to afford living in NY. No matter your personal feelings on the subject, this wage increase is a huge deal for those workers.

[via the New York Times]