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Hawkins pushing for $15 minimum wage in race for governor

Ryan Delaney
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor. (File)

Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins wants the minimum wage for New York workers to be nearly doubled.

Hawkins, the perennial political activist and UPS worker, is calling for the state’s minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour.

It’s $8 right now and on track to rise to $9 by the end of next year. Hawkins says that should also go for tipped workers, who right now make a base salary of just $5 an hour, something the state is considering.

An increase in the minimum wage reduces poverty and takes a burden off of welfare programs, he argues.

"The economy is 2.7 times more productive per capita," he said. "In other words, as workers, we produce almost three-times more for every hour we work, but our wages have been stagnant. The economy can afford to pay us a living wage."

Hawkins made his case to a wage board from the state labor department taking comments on whether to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers.

He also says the state needs to crack down on wage theft.

"We know from national studies that one-third of low wage workers experience wage theft every week. We have a two year, 15,000 case backlog in New York state," he said. 

Hawkins says more money in people’s pockets will increase buying power and offset the increased overhead for employers.

He is running for governor for the second time and markets himself as the progressive alternative to Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino.