Half-True
de Blasio
"We raised the minimum wage to $15 first in city government. Now, working together with people in Albany, it's the law of the state."

Bill de Blasio on Monday, February 13th, 2017 in his 2017 State of the City address

Who led the way for a $15 minimum wage in New York?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his 2017 State of the City address. (Courtesy: NYC Mayor's Office Flickr Account)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says lawmakers in Albany followed the lead of city government when they passed a statewide minimum wage increase last year.

De Blasio, who is up for reelection this year, made the claim in his 2017 State of the City address.

"We all together -- so many partners in this room did again what was said to be impossible," de Blasio said. "We raised the minimum wage to $15 first in city government. Now, working together with people in Albany, it's the law of the state."

De Blasio raised the minimum wage for city employees in January 2016, about three months before the New York State Legislature passed a new statewide minimum wage in April. The minimum wage will be phased in to $15 at different rates across the state over the next several years.

So is de Blasio right about New York City paving the way for the wage increase?

The fast food wage board

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took the first statewide action on a $15 minimum wage in May 2015 when he convened his fast-food wage board.

The governor cannot unilaterally raise the statewide minimum wage, but the Department of Labor has the authority to raise wages for a specific industry. The fast-food wage board was charged with recommending a pay increase for workers in that industry.

After four public hearings, the wage board recommended a phased-in minimum wage of $15 for fast-food workers. Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino approved the recommendation in September 2015.

State and SUNY workers

Cuomo, two months later in November 2015, announced a minimum wage increase to $15 for state workers. The order applied to 10,000 New York state employees.

Cuomo announced the same increase for employees of the State University of New York in January 2016. The increase applied to 28,000 SUNY employees. Both actions were scheduled to be fully phased in by 2018 in New York City and 2021 statewide.

New York City

De Blasio announced a $15 minimum wage for city workers on Jan. 6, 2016 -- two days after Cuomo announced the wage increase for SUNY workers.

De Blasio’s announcement applied to more public workers than Cuomo’s two major announcements combined. He said 50,000 workers would see a raise in the city, compared with Cuomo’s combined 38,000 employees between the state and SUNY workers.

De Blasio’s raise will be fully phased in by the end of 2018, like state and SUNY workers in New York City.

Other cities

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner was the first elected official in New York state to raise the minimum wage to $15 for public employees. Miner made the announcement in October 2015, about three weeks before Cuomo announced the raise for state workers and three months before de Blasio. The action only affected 61 city employees in Syracuse, but the raise took effect immediately.

The cities of Buffalo and Rochester announced their own minimum wage increases to $15 about a month later in November. Both cities were scheduled to phase in the wage increase by 2021. The action affected 479 city workers in Buffalo and 116 in Rochester.

Our ruling

De Blasio said during his State of the City address that "we raised the minimum wage to $15 first in city government. Now, working together with people in Albany, it's the law of the state."

De Blasio trailed the pack on this issue. Three other cities in New York state gave their public employees a raise before New York City. An increase for state and SUNY workers also came before his action. Fast-food workers were the first to get a raise.

He did raise the New York City wage before the State Legislature enacted a statewide wage increase. While that part of his statement is accurate, his claim leaves out important details and ignores other facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Half True.

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Half True
"We raised the minimum wage to $15 first in city government. Now, working together with people in Albany, it's the law of the state."
New York City
Monday, February 13, 2017