ALBANY -- In the face of a political road block in Albany, progressive groups continue their last-minute push to force an increase in the minimum wage, this time targeting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who they say can do it alone.
The groups cite comments by law school professors who argue Cuomo's labor department already has the power by law to raise the minimum. The groups, including the Strong Economy for All coalition and the National Employment Law Project, note Cuomo recently used his executive order to enact President Barack Obama's health care program in New York, which avoided Senate Republican opposition.
Cuomo says he supports increasing the wage to $8.50 from $7.25 an hour, but New York has never hiked it for all workers without the legislature's consent. The labor commissioner raised the wage most recently in 2009, by a dime, for restaurant workers.
The proposal by the Assembly's Democratic majority has strong support in public polls. But the Senate's Republican majority flatly opposes the measure as a "job killer" that could slap low-wage earners with more taxes and lost government benefits. The regular legislative session ends June 21.
New York has in the past used the law to raise the minimum wage for most if not all labor sectors individually, said Jennifer Gordon, professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law.
"I think it's quite clear," she said Tuesday. "A literal reading of New York labor law doesn't seem to impose any impediment."