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Fast Food Workers Rally In Albany In Favor Of Higher Minimum Wage

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Fast food workers from around New York state rallied at the Statehouse in Albany Tuesday, demanding a higher minimum wage and calling for the passage of legislation that would let cities and towns set their own wage rules.

The state minimum is currently $8 an hour, and is to increase to $9 at the end of 2015.

Several dozen employees gathered in front of a McDonald's located at the Statehouse complex as state workers and visitors lined up for lunch.

Shantel Walker, who makes $8.50 an hour at a Brooklyn pizzeria, said local governments should be able to set their own minimum wages to account for regional differences in the cost of living.

``I told my boss `this pay is my bread and butter, but it's turning into margarine,''' said Walker, who said she often makes more than 200 pizzas in a shift. ``Just look at my paycheck. It's not enough to live on.''

The bill to give local governments control over the minimum wage is one of several pieces of legislation relating to the wage. Another would set the wage at $9 per hour at the end of 2014 and would tie future increases to inflation.

Business groups have argued that raising the wage or letting cities set their own would increase the costs on business owners, forcing them to raise prices or cut back on employee positions or hours.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said Monday that he wants lawmakers to vote to raise the wage before ending their legislation session next month.

Organizers have been pushing for higher wages for fast-food workers for more than a year.

The actions are part of an ongoing campaign by union organizers to build public support for a higher wages. The Service Employees International Union has been providing financial and organizational support for the push, which began in late 2012. A series of protests since then calling for pay of $15 an hour has captured national media attention and served as a backdrop for President Barack Obama's push to raise the federal minimum wage.

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