At a rally in New York City on January 4, governor Andrew Cuomo announced the first step of his 2016 agenda to make New York the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage for all workers: directing the State University of New York to raise the minimum wage for its employees. The SUNY Board of Trustees is expected to approve this increase in its minimum wage at its January board meeting.
Upon approval of the increase, more than 28,000 SUNY employees — including hourly paid staff, student workers and work/study participants alike — will see their wages increase to $9.75 an hour beginning in February of this year, and ultimately reach $15 an hour on December 31, 2018 in New York City and July 1, 2021 statewide. The increase is projected to cost approximately $28 million once fully implemented, and will be covered by SUNY.
Statistics released by the governor’s office and the SUNY system estimate that in the Hudson Valley region, 281,104 individuals in all industries are currently earning less than $15 an hour. According to the press release, the New York State Department of Labor projects that an increase to a $15 minimum wage will mean a boost of over $15.7 billion for the state economy.
Of those 28,000+ people employed for less than $15 per hour by the SUNY system, 2,188 work in the Hudson Valley. At SUNY New Paltz, 524 workers currently make less than $9.75 an hour. “All are students,” said Melissa Kaczmarek, media relations manager at the college’s Office of Communication & Marketing.
“At this time, the College is looking into the impact of this on our campus and our budget,” Kaczmarek told the New Paltz Times on January 8. “The impact on the campus for this fiscal year is about $77,000. The annualized figure for this increase is $154,000.”