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Workers for disabled to get 6% raises under tentative deal

ALBANY — Low-wage workers who serve the disabled in nonprofit organizations funded by the state will get raises of more than 6 percent over the next three years according to a tentative deal announced Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The announcement detailed a broad agreement struck a week ago ( In total, the raises for hundreds of workers in community settings and facilities for the disabled will cost $55 million in the $162 billion state budget.

Workers in the high-stress, demanding jobs making less than the current minimum wage of $10.50 an hour will get a 3.25-percent raise under the tentative deal. Next year, those workers would get another 3.25-percent raise. Workers for the disabled making over the current minimum wage will get a total raise of 6.5 percent over the next three years.

The deal is still subject to final legislative approval in the state budget, which is due by midnight Friday night.

The raises were deemed necessary because when Cuomo and the legislature raised the statewide minimum wage last year, nonprofit agencies funded by the state and serving the disabled were faced with layoffs or service cuts to afford the new rate. Some skilled workers were lost to fast-food restaurants and retailers that paid higher wages, mandated by the state’s gradual increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Last year, Cuomo refused to provide these workers funding for raises, but relentless lobbying by the disabled for their workers by former Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg of Long Beach built pressure this year.

“I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Gov. Cuomo, Sen. John Flanagan and Speaker Carl Heastie for putting people ahead of politics,” Weisenberg said in an interview as he was visiting with his son, Ricky, who is disabled. “I am so proud of my former colleagues on both sides of the aisle and Sen. Todd Kaminsky for coming together in our current climate and sending a united message of hope to everyone in the state with disabilities.”

Kaminsky, a Democrat in the Republican-controlled Senate, also credited bipartisanship.

“We are currently in a situation where it pays more to flip burgers than to take care of our most vulnerable citizens, Kaminsky said. “The years of advocacy by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg has led to a bipartisan consensus.” Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan (R-East Northport) and Heastie (D-Bronx) all spoke in support of the measure at a rally for the workers Tuesday in Albany.

“I won’t sign a budget unless there is the $55 million” for the raises, Cuomo said. “I’ve seen you perform services that are unbelievable.”


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