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Green Party LogoHawkins Blasts Cuomo for Lousy Minimum Wage Deal

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2013

Additional Information
Howie Hawkins

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party gubernatorial candidate who finished third in the 2010 win a ballot line for his party, blasted the minimum wage deal that Governor Cuomo has put together.

"I pointed out when I ran that Cuomo was no friend of working people and he has certainly proved that since taking office. This deal keeps the minimum wage as a sub-poverty wage. Cuomo has agreed to exclude tip workers while providing hundreds of millions of dollar in tax giveaways to the fast-food and low-wage industries. For Cuomo, state fiscal problems are caused by basic public services used by children, seniors, students and workers, not the corporate welfare subsides and tax cuts on high incomes that both major parties have been lavishing on the 1% for more three decades now," stated Hawkins.

Hawkins said that Cuomo actions to keep the Senate Republicans in power in order to support his austerity agenda are paying another dividend to his corporate donors in the minimum wage deal.

"Last year Cuomo killed a minimum wage hike even though public opinion polls demonstrated overwhelming support among voters for it, including Republicans. Then he allowed the Republicans to gerrymander the Senate district lines in order to try to hang on to a majority even though there are two million more enrolled Democrats in the state. When that failed, Senators Klein and Valesky and the other conservative Democrats in the Independent Democratic Conference (all also nominated by the corporate Democratic branding operation called the Working Families Party) decided to break off and keep the Republicans in power despite their minority status. Cuomo, as leader of the Democratic Party, did nothing to prevent that maneuver by conservatives," Hawkins said.

"This lousy minimum wage deal shows the power of the 1%. When it comes to workers and economic justice, Cuomo does the bidding of his corporate donors just as well as any Republican. Remember, the mufti-billioinaire Koch brothers gave Cuomo $92,000 on 2010, more than double their donations in 2010 to the union busting Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, who got $43,000," added Hawkins.

Hawkins Calls for an Immediate $12 Minimum Wage Indexed to Inflation

Hawkins said he supports a minimum wage of $12 an hour, immediately, with indexing for inflation. He urge minimum wage advocates to continue to demand a better deal, both to include tip workers but also a much higher initial wage.

Hawkins noted that the minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.67 today when adjusted for inflation. If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth since 1968, it would be over $16.50 an hour today. That is higher than the hourly wages earned by 40 percent of men and 50 percent of women.

"In other words," Hawkins said, "half of American workers now make less than the 1968 minimum wage had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity gains. As workers, we are producing about twice as much per hour as 1968 workers did. But the 1% is grabbing that value we are creating by our labor. That is why half of American families are in poverty or a paycheck away from it. $12 an hour is a quite modest proposal when you consider how much value American workers are producing," Hawkins said.

"Let's also drop the falsehood in this debate that is it is mainly struggling small businesses that pay the minimum wage. In fact, a 66 percent majority of minimum wage workers are employed by businesses, but with over 100 employees. It is the Wal-Mart's of the business world who are profiting most from the low minimum wage standard and also relying on taxpayer subsidies to keep their poverty wage workers fed, housed, and health enough to work for them because these minimum wage workers are paid so low they qualify for food stamps, Section 8 and public housing rent subsidies, Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit," Hawkins said.

"The Senate Democrats are calling the deal half a loaf. It's not near half a loaf. It's just stale crumbs," Hawkins added.


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