Low wages are no accident

time for changeI urge our lawmakers to consider the consequences of the recommended action (wage increase for fast-food workers) and to address the larger issue of a living wage for all New Yorkers — in particular, those working in human services supporting people with disabilities.–Mark Peters

Low wages are no accident–they are the result of deliberate government policy. Mark Peters, Executive Director of Able 2, a local agency serving the disabled, writes:

New York state is poised to increase the minimum wage for workers in the fast-food industry to $15 per hour. There is no doubt that these workers deserve to be paid a living wage; however, raising the minimum wage for only one sector of our workforce is unjust and shortsighted. Many workers in other fields will be left behind if this plan is implemented.

I believe the justification for an increase for fast-food workers is the disgrace of large, profitable corporations paying employs a wage that leaves them dependent on public assistance to make ends meet. It isn’t only private corporations that are at fault. NYS pay standards are equally disgraceful. Peters continues:

I represent hundreds of workers who provide support to people with disabilities living in group homes and in the community. They are providing care to some of our most vulnerable citizens. The starting hourly wage for these dedicated workers who do such challenging work is in the $9 to $11 range.

The wages paid to our direct care workers are directly linked to rates paid to our agency by New York state. These state-set rates do not allow for an increase in wages to compete with the wages proposed for fast-food workers. Recruitment and retention of qualified and responsible workers is our biggest challenge. This task will become much more difficult should the plan to increase the minimum wage for a single segment of the workforce be implemented.

According to the Elmira Star-Gazette article cited below, local officials gathered in Corning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA, “American’s with Disabilities Act.” This article notes:

The Americans with Disabilities Act is intended to protect people with disabilities from discrimination and enable them to participate fully in the workforce and their communities. Its protections, which now cover an estimated 55 million Americans, extend to five key areas: employment, state and local government facilities and services, public accommodations, telecommunications, and transportation.

ADA can’t fulfill its promise if it is underfunded. In particular, promised care for the disabled will be compromised if wages paid to those workers dedicated to service remain low. It isn’t enough to send a representative to praise the ADA on its anniversary as Rep. Reed did. As Mark Peters noted, it is no accident that wages are low; government action to raise them is necessary.

© William Hungerford – July 2015

http://www.stargazette.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/07/24/letter-wage-increase/30618251/

http://www.stargazette.com/story/news/local/2015/07/24/area-officials-mark-ada-anniversary/30633791/

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About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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2 Responses to Low wages are no accident

  1. pystew says:

    The move to increase minimum wages to $15/ hour are feared by many in our district. People who have worked many years are are earning and are earning $10-$14 per hour are confused about where their wages will end up. They do not want to be raised to the $15 and lumped with 17 year olds with no experience. Business should raise their salaries accordingly–some will and probably some won’t.

    I was talking with a Wal-Mart worker just after they announced that they will be raising wages. She wasn’t very excited and remarked that they will probably take more money out of her pay.

    It is difficult to explain to the small Mom and Pops business owners that yes, they will have to increase their payroll, but there will be more money in the community to be spent in their store.

    With an increase of wages, more money will be flowing into governments. They may be able to raise property taxes more slowly.

    More money will flow into and out of Social Security–the workers, since they will receive higher wages will have more money deducted; and the employers will have also have more deducted. That would increase the benefits the workers will receive when they qualify.

    Looking at the details of what the increase really means should open the eyes to the nay sayers.

  2. Pingback: Congressman Reed’s August Town Hall Meetings | New NY 23rd

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