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Board Mulling Wage Hike For Fast Food Workers Meets In NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) --  Hundreds of fast food workers gathered in New York City to demand a $15 minimum wage before spilling into a wage board meeting Monday.

The board, which was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is expected to recommend whether to raise the minimum wage for the fast-food industry later this summer. During the hearing at New York University, it heard from workers, labor experts and business owners.

Mayor Bill de Blasio submitted written testimony urging the board to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"There's nothing unreasonable about demanding a wage you can live on," de Blasio wrote. "And in New York City, $8.75 is not a wage many can live on, and certainly not a wage that anyone can raise a family on."

Board Mulling Wage Hike For Fast Food Workers To Meet In NYC

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer cited Seattle and San Francisco as examples of a successful wage increase.

However, the head of the New York State Restaurant Association said those cities are nowhere near $15 and are gradually building up to it. Melissa Autilio Fleischut said the association would be more comfortable with that approach.

New York's minimum wage is now $8.75 and is set to rise to $9 at year's end. Any increase would need the approval of Cuomo's labor commissioner, but would not need legislative approval.

Many workers said before the meeting that they're having trouble just paying their rent.

Business owners say an increase could force them to raise prices or reduce hours for employees.

Board Mulling Wage Hike For Fast Food Workers Meets In NYC

"Fifteen dollars an hour would give me a little breathing room," one fast food worker told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "I would be able to take my girlfriend on a date. I'd be able to buy myself clothes. I'd be able to buy birthday gifts. It's a shame; I work 40 hours a week."

"I make $9 an hour," said a woman who has been working at Wendy's in East New York for nine years. "I have one daughter and five grandchildren. I want them to have a better future. I don't want them to have to struggle the way I've done, and that's why I'm willing to do whatever it takes until we win."

"If any industry in any state needs and can afford a $15 minimum wage, it's fast food in New York," Paul Sonn of the National Employment Project told WCBS 880's Rich Lamb. "It's growing like crazy. Profits are growing quickly. But the wages are flat and falling."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the minimum wage a national law in 1938, and Cuomo has previously said minimum wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of living.

Labor organizers have been pushing for pay of $15 an hour and a union for fast-food workers since late 2012. The campaign has included ongoing protests around the country, lawsuits at home and abroad and other actions.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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