The ink had barely dried on the recommendation issued last month by New York Gov. Cuomo’s Wage Board — calling for a $15 minimum wage in the state’s fast-food industry — when corporate special interests in New York began sounding the alarm.
Consider the latest example: A Times Square billboard by a restaurant industry-funded advocacy group declaring underpaid cooks and cashiers undeserving of a raise because allegedly they have “no experience or skills.”
It’s a well-worn scare tactic meant to distract from the facts: 72% of fast-food workers in New York are adults over the age of 22, and nearly half have at least some college education.
But lobbyists for the fast-food industry aren’t in the business of spreading facts; they are paid to try and preserve the status quo, and from day one have argued that the sky would fall if workers are paid anything close to the living wage of $15 an hour.
The truth, of course, is that the sky has already fallen on America’s fast-food workers. Jobs that pay a living wage are virtually unheard of in the industry. And it’s precisely because companies like McDonald’s have driven wages into the ground for decades, as a concerted corporate strategy, that bold reforms like a $15 minimum wage are long overdue.