Minimum wage rally held in Albany

Staff/Wire Reports

Advocates for the working poor on Monday, Nov. 19, urged New York’s government leaders -- poised to raise their salaries soon -- to also raise the minimum wage and replenish food banks for victims of Superstorm Sandy.?

The interfaith clergy used their annual Thanksgiving appeal for aid for hungry New Yorkers to push for the wage initiative during a march and rally held Monday in downtown Albany.

The Rev. Kathy Donley urged lawmakers to help health care workers who can’t afford good health care, farm hands who can’t afford enough food and people who clean houses who can’t afford decent housing.?

According to the Hunger Action Network, its survey found a third of the state’s food pantries and soup kitchens report too little food to meet their demand and more than 6 in 10 reported cuts in government funding.

Meanwhile, the number of people using food pantries increased 9 percent, and soup kitchen users increased 2 percent. About 3 million New Yorkers use the emergency food services dependent on donations and volunteers.?

The groups say the minimum wage must be raised to at least $8.50 an hour, from the current $7.25 an hour, with regular, automatic increases.

The wage increase proposal, popular in public polls, was pushed during the regular session that ended in June by Democratic Assembly Sheldon Silver.

But the Senate’s Republican majority opposed the measure, saying it would eliminate jobs for the working poor as the economy slowly rebounds.?

The proposal has long been expected to be part of bargaining with several issues. They include a raise in legislators’ basic salaries of $79,500 as well as increases in the six-figure salaries of top commissioners in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.

Cuomo says the raises are needed to attract top talent.?Legislative and executive chamber salaries haven’t increased in more than a decade.