September 11, 2015

Pressing for livable wage for SRPs, all workers

Author: Kara Smith
Source: NYSUT Communications
fight for 15
Caption: File photo: Cheryl Rockhill, a school and bus monitor and president of the Brushton-Moira Support Staff Association in the North Country, shared her family's struggle to make ends meet during testimony to the Wage Board in June. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Workers everywhere should take heart in the decision by the New York State Department of Labor to (albeit gradually) increase the state's minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour - as the fight for a livable wage for all workers accelerates.

"Too many of our School-Related Professionals earn minimum wage, or near minimum wage, and can't afford to support themselves and their families," said NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale. "While this is a significant step forward, we won't rest until all working men and women receive a livable wage."

NYSUT pressed those points in testimony before the state New York State Labor Department's Wage Board. Cheryl Rockhill, a school and bus monitor and president of the Brushton-Moira Support Staff Association in the North Country, shared her family's struggle to make ends meet during testimony to the Wage Board in June.

"Despite having three jobs in our household, we still live paycheck to paycheck," said Rockhill, who also works part-time as a short-order cook, and whose husband works seasonally for a tree service company. "We have two children and sometimes don't know where the grocery money is coming from."

At the state's current hourly minimum wage of $8.75, a 40-hour-a-week employee earns an annual salary of $18,200 — well below New York state's poverty line of $44,863 for a family of four. "The time is now to push for real change for all workers," Pecorale said.