fight for 15 protestors

New York moves to raise minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 an hour

Three years after the first fast food worker strike took place in New York City — inspiring a movement that has since expanded to include other low-wage industries and spread across the country — it looks like their demand for $15 an hour will be met

A panel appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recommended on Wednesday that the minimum wage be raised for employees of fast-food chain restaurants throughout the state to $15 an hour over the next few years. Wages would be raised faster in New York City than in the rest of the state to account for the higher cost of living there.

The panel’s recommendations, which are expected to be put into effect by an order of the state’s acting commissioner of labor, represent a major triumph for the advocates who have rallied burger-flippers and fry cooks to demand pay that covers their basic needs. They argued that taxpayers were subsidizing the workforces of some multinational corporations, like McDonald’s, that were not paying enough to keep their workers from relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits.

This is an exciting win for the Fight for $15 — a movement that will especially help women, particularly women of color, who make up the majority of the absurdly underpaid low-wage workers in this country.

The protests that have gathered steam in the last few years have already led to minimum wage hikes in other cities and states. Unable to convince state lawmakers to increase the wage across the board, Gov. Cuomo used the wage board to try to raise it for the 180,000 employees in the fast food industry at least. And as one of the biggest employers of low-wage workers in the state, experts expect it will have a ripple effect to other industries.

Plus, as Cuomo said, “When New York acts, the rest of the states follow.” Let’s hope.

Header image credit: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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