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A coalition of local groups will be sponsoring the “Fight for Fifteen” May Day Vigil for Fair and Living Wages on Thursday, May 1 between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. on the public sidewalk on 100 block North Genesee Street (across the street from the Hess Gas Station), Utica.

“We are holding this event to press for a higher minimum wage, improved wages for food service, child care, and hospitality workers, and living wages for all workers,” said Brendan Dunn, one of the organizers for the event.  “We are joining with countless people across the country to demand a $15/hour minimum wage. This is a new movement that has gained considerable momentum in Seattle and has its roots in the recent upsurge of fast food worker organizing. May Day is internationally recognized as Labor Day and has its roots in the US. In recent years it has been revived by the immigrant rights and labor movements.”

Over three million workers in New York–37 percent of the state’s labor force–work in low-wage jobs that pay less than $15 per hour, according to a 2014 report by the National Employment Law Project and the Fiscal Policy Institute. Census data show that workers of color in New York are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs, with 49 percent of Hispanic workers and 48 percent of black workers throughout the state holding jobs that pay less than $15 per hour.

Two out of three (66 percent) small business owners in New York think cities and counties should have the authority to set their own minimum wage rates above the state level, according to a new poll released by Small Business Majority. The poll signals broad levels of support among small businesses for legislation introduced this year (S. 6516/A. 9036) by State Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblyman Karim Camara that would grant localities in New York the authority to set their own minimum wage rates.

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found that 77 percent of small business owners in New York support setting the minimum wage above the state’s current rate of $8 per hour, as well as indexing the minimum wage to rise each year with the cost of living. The respondents were predominately Republican–with 45 percent of small business owners identifying as Republican, 40 percent as Democrat and 15 percent as independent or other.

The event is free and open to the public.  Local co-sponsors include Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., IWW, Mohawk Valley Freedom School, Occupy Utica, and MoveOn.   For more information or transportation, please contact John Furman 315-725-0974, cnycitizenaction@gmail.com/Brendan Dunn 315-240-3149,maslauskas84@gmail.com.

For event details, please refer to http://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com or https://www.facebook.com/events/598887090224476/ .  Follow events on  ‪#FightFor15 ‪#15Now  #FightFor15CNY.