NEW YORK — Governor Andrew Cuomo's appointed wage board recommended an increase to the state's minimum wage to $15 just last week, but that move was reserved only for the state's fast food employees.
So while they rejoiced, other sectors of our population who work in other industries were left scratching their heads and wondering where that would leave them?
"That made me say, oh maybe I should go to Wendy's or McDonalds and start working just to make ends meet and forget about what I'm passionate about," said Keisha Butler.
Keisha Butler works at the Queens Center for Progress, a nonprofit organization which works with children and adults suffering from developmental disabilities.
She is in one of many playing a crucial role here, tasked with teaching disabled young adults how to lead normal functioning lives. She wears many hats, but her salary she says doesn't quite reflect that. She's paid well below $15 an hour.
Her boss, Executive Director of QCP -Charles Houston, sadly agrees and acknowledging salary scales for the staff he loves is limited and determined by government funding sources. Now with fast food workers getting a wage hike, Houston's fears he will lose valuable employees to higher paying jobs at fast food restaurants.
"It's not just a fear. We've had them say it already. What bothers me is the tinge of sadness with which it's said because they like the work that they do here," said Houston.
Houston said he can't blame those like Butler and its simple economics that can't go ignored.
"Fast food workers deserve a salary increase. We're supportive of that, however this creates a huge disparity now between that group of people and other businesses," explained Houston.
As for Butler, she's watching closely to see what Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature will do next. While many labor experts predict the fast food minimum wage hike will set a precedent and trickle to other industries, some aren't so confident it will happen soon enough or at all.