Governor Andrew Cuomo's much-overhyped wage-board is set to meet on July 22nd to recommend a gradual increase in the minimum wage paid to fast food workers.
Rather than a gift to labor, the scheme may be among the governor's most underhanded, and ruthless, pro-business moves--a scam-politics scheme of the most corrupt order, perhaps someday being ranked alongside his most devious achievements like trampling the WFP and cutting real estate tax revenue "out of fiscal concern" (only to force the gutting of local school budgets when they wouldn't accept the state's own gutting).
The pro-business governor is doing nothing more than attempting to deflate the Fight for 15 movement--whose aims have always extended beyond just Fast Food Labor into an overall raise in minimum wage, a right to organize, a right to a sane schedule and a right to dignity and safety on the job for all workers.
With low-wage work being the primary source of income for an ever-increasing number of New Yorkers, Cuomo's disturbing, two-faced and manipulative play at bribing away a piece of the movement should illustrate for New York's non-billionaire class just how far the corporate-coddling governor will go to attack independently organized middle and working class movements.
A consistent enemy to low-wage workers across the state, not only has Cuomo sold out low-income New Yorkers at every possible turn (from rent laws to labor), Cuomo even made it impossible for New York City to set its own minimum wage according to local prices.
So what's with Cuomo's sudden pretense that fast food workers are a priority for him?
Cuomo is on the wrong side of some half-dozen scandals these days, and has little, if any, support among the politically active groups and organizers of the working class.
In fact, it's a safe bet that between his Big Developer-friendly performance in the last round of rent law negotiations and his disturbingly close relationship to the worst of the Great Recession Wall Street criminals, Cuomo is among the least liked New York politicians at the activist-community level.
Furthermore, even traditionally centrist working-class groups, like the building trades unions, have shown signs of breaking away from the Cuomo "insiders."
In fact, the "insiders versus outsiders" game is a bit of a Cuomo specialty, one that often serves as an element in his divide-and-conquer strategy for breaking worker and community strength.
Cuomo's Rove-sque level of maneuvering is little surprise to those who watch Albany. An operative of the most sophisticated order, when Andrew Cuomo plots on his political enemies (like, these days, independently-organized labor and tenant groups), there's always something more sinister and corporate at play than an ostensibly occupied mind with a half-plan.
For clarity, let's explicitly understand what the wage board will say absolutely nothing about
- raising the overall minimum wage for the millions of other low-wage workers
- collective bargaining and union rights for all low-wage workers
- allowing new york city and/or other municipalities to set their own higher-than-state-level minimum wage
- job-protection and job-safety measures for low-wage workers
- scheduling guarantees and scheduling regulations for low-wage "flex-economy" workers
Seen through Cuomo's history of divide-defuse-and-conquer towards community power, it's only too blatant that wall street's favorite governor is once more scheming to buy one side of the working class into a complacent tolerance when the rest of working class is eviscerated (Giuliani had a similar relationship with certain building trades and law enforcement unions, as did Pataki).
EDITOR's NOTE: Low-wage worker movements have been self-organizing for years. Check out some of our earliest coverage from years ago:
November 2011: New York's Fast Food Labor Rumble Takes Center Stage, a short compilation from our staff
SOLIDARITY - MJ