Brian Pugh: When is the minimum wage not the minimum?

To the Editor,brian-pugh-group-cropped

At the start of this year, the NYS minimum wage increased to $10 (and will now gradually rise to $15/hour by 2021). The Village of Croton, as a local government is not required to pay the state minimum wage due to a loophole in state labor law.

Some local governments such as the City of Rochester, City of Syracuse and the State of New York itself have pledged to voluntarily pay all workers state minimum wage or better. Croton is not one of these local governments.

According to Village records, some Village workers were being paid as little as $8.25/hour as of June 2016. For comparison, the inflation-adjusted value of the 1970 minimum wage would be over $12/hour in current dollars.

If part‐time Village workers were paid a minimum of $10/hr, it would cost approximately $13,000–raising the pay for dozens of summer employees that serve as lifeguards and camp counselors and a pittance compared to the $19M proposed budget. Indeed, the $13,000 needed to raise wages for part-time workers is substantially less than the cost of the proposed raises for departments heads, which totals more than $20,000.

That is not necessarily a criticism of the individuals slated for raises in the proposed budget, but clearly money for raises. Indeed, Village staff in most departments and in most job titles can expect raises under the proposed budget. The question is why can’t any funds be found for the frontline workers responsible for the many Croton children that take advantage of offerings from the Recreation Department?

It remains a mystery how the majority on the Village Board of Trustees cannot find the money somewhere. It is even more baffling that one of my colleagues in the majority, who makes a great show of his support for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)–and leading champion of a $15/hr minimum wage, made a spirited defense of the practice of paying seasonal workers a sub-minimum wage.

We can do better, we must do better.


Brian Pugh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s