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Letters: Raise the minimum wage to $15?

Demonstrators for minimum wage increases for fast-food workers

Demonstrators for minimum wage increases for fast-food workers at the state Capitol in Albany on June 17, 2014. Credit: Albany Times Union / John Carl D'Annibale

I was glad to read the coverage of the state wage board hearing ["Fast-food raises eyed," News, June 30]. I attended the June 18 hearing along with 400 others. I was greatly moved by the testimony of fast-food workers trying to survive on the minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. One worker broke into tears, saying that because of extreme financial constraints, she has never been able to give her 5-year-old a birthday party.

Fast-food workers are simply asking for the fair wage they deserve. I hope the wage board takes into account the opinion of the vast majority of the 400 people in attendance and increases the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour.

Andrew Simon, Roslyn Heights

Editor's note: The writer is a volunteer with the Long Island Progressive Coalition, which favors the wage increase.

After reading about fast-food workers possibly getting a raise to $15 an hour, I was spitting mad! Fast-food work requires minimum education and minimum skills.

I'm a teacher's assistant at a preschool for children with autism and developmental delays. I have a bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and a master's degree from Queens College. I have worked at my school for almost 10 years, and I make $10.53 an hour.

Yes, I'm overeducated for this position, but I stay because I love the children and enjoy my job. Many young people with college educations work at my school for this pitiful salary and are barely surviving. They, too, have families to support.

We've lobbied our legislators for better pay, but they continue to ignore us. Are fast-food workers doing more important work than we are? What's wrong with this world?

Suzann Ritchel, East Northport

I started my career at minimum wage at restaurants, gas stations and assembly lines. These endeavors provided me with experience and insight about what I was good at, what I enjoyed and what I didn't enjoy. If our young people don't have those opportunities, they will be severely handicapped in finding how they can be successful.

The question that needs to be asked is, "What happens to the person who was never hired?" The wage board's efforts should really focus on a training wage, not minimum wage.

Anthony Liedtke, Port Jefferson

Once again, politicians are pandering to the loudest vocal minority. A $15-per-hour minimum is out of scale to the job being performed.

More important, how is it right that one class of workers deserves a higher minimum wage than others? There are countless people who toil in jobs paying at or slightly above minimum wage -- for example, the kitchen workers in more traditional restaurants. Are they less deserving of a wage increase, or is it that they are not agitating in front of news cameras?

Either raise the state minimum wage for all or for none.

Craig Henry, West Hempstead