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Workers Cheer Vote to Raise Fast Food Wages to $15 an Hour

By  Ben Fractenberg and Irene Plagianos | July 22, 2015 4:56pm 

 Workers cheer a vote by a New York State wage board to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 an hour.
Workers cheer a vote by a New York State wage board to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 an hour.
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DNAinfo/ Irene Plagianos

CIVIC CENTER —  A state Wage Board voted to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 an hour Wednesday afternoon.

Hundreds of workers packed onto Barclay Street in lower Manhattan broke out into applause after a live feed showed the board approved the wage hike at about 3 p.m.


A video posted by Irene Plagianos (@ireneplag) on

Gov. Andrew Cuomo lauded the decision from the panel, which he appointed, and told the crowd he hoped New York would inspire other states to take action on wage hikes.

“We are standing up to fight that injustice. We are not going to take this anymore and the state of New York is leading the way,” Cuomo said. “The fight is not over.”

 Workers Celebrate $15 Minimum Wage Decision
Workers Celebrate $15 Minimum Wage Decision
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The state’s labor commissioner now has to approve the measure, which he is expected to do.

If approved, fast food workers' minimum hourly wage would increase to $15 in the city by 2018 and statewide by 2021.

The vote came after several years of lobbying and rallies led by community groups and unions. 

“All work has dignity, and all working people deserve security and the opportunity to provide a better future for their families," said 1199 SEIU Unite Health Care Workers union President George Gresham. "Inequality is out of control in New York and throughout our nation, and it is undermining our economy, our democracy and our bedrock American values."

The board, which met in lower Manhattan, had previously heard hours of testimony from workers and leaders. 

Rebecca Cormick, a 61-year-old who's worked at a Wendy’s in Brooklyn for nine years, began to cheer as the board's announcement was played on a flat-screen TV for the masses that gathered.

“I am just thrilled today,” said Cormick. “I cannot support myself and my granddaughter on $9 an hour, I fight eviction, I can’t afford the medicine I need, but with $15 I can do more than just try to survive, I’ll be able to live.”

Harley Perez, 19, a worker at McDonald's in Lower Manhattan, also said she was overwhelmed with happiness by the panel's recommendation.

"It's a struggle everyday with the money I make. I'm in a lot of debt," said Perez, who's worked at McDonald's for two years. "I've been fighting for this increase for a long time, I know this is going to change a lot of people's lives."