By Chereese Sheen
A living wage of $13.13 per hour was immediately set when New York Major Bill De Blasio signed an executive order. The increased minimum wage will not affect the financial assistance granted to CUNY students.
According to CUNY.edu, families with a New York State Net Taxable Income of $80,000 or less, a year, qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, and Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). The lowest of wageworkers will only be making $16,640 to $27,310 per year, according to NYC.gov.
“Many of the families whose lives will be transformed by this law are the families of our students at CUNY; this executive order changes everything for them,” said Barbara Bowen, president of Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, and English professor at Queens College in an email interview.
Although the raise will benefit family income, a Brooklyn College graduate says it will not benefit the student’s education.
In an interview, Jillian Escobar, a 22-year-old lifeguard, and resident of Queens Village said, “[The increase] will help CUNY students, but not significantly enough to aid in the reduction of work hours, and allow for greater dedication to their studies.”
In an interview, Debbie Okeke, a 22-year-old server at Applebee’s, and former Queens College student agreed with Escobar.
Okeke said, “[The increase] should help a lot of [CUNY] students pay out of pocket for school, books, and other school needs like printing or writing utensils.”
The 2013 College Student Pulse, a national survey, discovered that 4 out of 5 college students are employed part-time while studying for their degrees, averaging 19 hours a week, but only 18 percent pay their way through school.
“Qualified Workforce Program” shall mean any training or workforce development program that serves youth, disadvantaged populations or traditionally hard-to-employ populations, says the Executive Order No. 7. The Director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development shall, in consultation with the Commissioner of Small Business Services, publish a list of such programs.
According to the Teachnology website, an online resource for teachers, having a part-time job affects student academic performance. Out of a poll of 910 teachers, over 550 voted that having a part-time job hurts a student’s academic performance.
[The result] makes sense because when a student gets a job, they have less time to devote to their academic studies, Teachnology said. Less study time usually means a decrease in test scores and overall grades.
In May of 2013, McKinsey and Company published a report in collaboration with Chegg, a website that specializes book rentals. They surveyed 4,900 former Chegg customers, students who went to private, public, vocational and for-profit institutions. Nearly half of the graduates from four-year colleges are working in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.
Retailers and fast food employees, at city-backed projects, will now earn a living wage, NYC.gov said.
Okeke said she makes $2.13 an hour, because she is supposed to get tipped from customers.
“I am living rent free, with an aunt, but getting paid that much while trying to buy food, toiletries, or everyday necessities while also paying for school books was a hard,” said Okeke. “If I [had] to pay rent, there is no way I would have made it with just one job.”
Living wage requirements would impact roughly 18,000 jobs over the next five years, compared to 1,200 under the current law, said NYC.gov.
“New York is an expensive place to live, and if the cost of living [does not] rise with the minimum wage, then it should help a lot of people out,” said Okeke.
Living Wage NYC describes the living wage as “a wage, which is based upon the cost of living in an area, rather than an arbitrary minimum.”
Living Wage NYC said, “New York City passed a living wage law in 2002, but the law only covers a limited number of workers, and does not apply to employees who work in privately-owned, publicly-subsidized developments, such as stadiums, convention centers and shopping malls.”
The new living wage law passed by Mayor Bill De Blasio will expand sick leave to 500,000 more workers, create new workforce development programs, and secure local control of the minimum wage in Albany, according to NYC.gov.
“I think the latest expansion of the NYC living wage is a positive step,” said Stephanie Luce, Professor of labor Studies at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education at CUNY School for Professional Studies, and author of Fighting for a Living Wage. “De Blasio’s executive order will greatly expand the number of workers who are eligible for the living wage, and raises the wage rate significantly.”
In a recent survey, one hundred percent of the volunteers, ages of 20-24 said they make more than minimum wage. Also, nine out of ten participants said they do not receive benefits from New York State. One participant said she received benefits through her parents.
During the survey, Sajal Bhargava, a manager at Cloud 9 lounge, and a Private First Class in the United States Army, said he relies on his Army salary, but also makes $200-$300 a day at his “regular” job.
In an interview, David Lawrence, 23, a driver for Enterprise, and a resident of South Jamaica, Queens said, “[The increase] is fair for now, but if the price of everything else goes up, like food and gas, then the wage will have to go up also.”
According to NYC.gov, over the last year 13 states have raised minimum wage. It has been five years since the minimum wage was increased in New York.
Lawrence said the wage had not increased “to make the weak weaker.” Even on his $11 per hour salary, he says he struggles to make ends meet.
The living wage is expected to exceed $15 by 2019, says NYC.gov.
Luce says, “There is still a lot more that [can] be done, and in fact, I think the next step should be that the city set its own citywide minimum wage of at least $13.13 per hour, and perhaps higher.”