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Another battle is looming over the minimum wage in New York.

Influential labor union 32BJ is teaming up with the Teamsters and Democratic state lawmakers to seek changes to the minimum wage law less than a year after an overhaul was approved — and as the 213-member state Legislature gears up for reelection.

The unions want to jettison a provision in the 2023 deal that would suspend automatic wage increases based on inflation if unemployment in the state rises over the course of the year — a stipulation that takes effect in 2027.

They also want to align the upstate minimum wage, currently set at $15 per hour in counties north of Westchester, with the New York City area’s $16-an-hour rate.

The wage will reach $16 in upstate counties and $17 in the New York City region by 2026.

More than 30 labor organizations are backing the effort to change the wage law — part of the broader Raise Up NY campaign, which also comprises amenable business owners.

“We want to make sure the minimum wage is setting a floor across the state that raises the standards for everyone,” Tal Frieden, a spokesperson for the Raise Up NY campaign, told Playbook. “Setting upstate behind doesn’t do that.”

A push for the wage law changes is expected to pick up in the coming weeks, as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul negotiate the state budget ahead of its April 1 deadline.

This latest fight has been brewing since last year when some left-leaning advocates and lawmakers went home unsatisfied with the minimum wage agreement reached between Hochul and the Democratic-led Legislature in the $229 billion budget deal.

Senate Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos had called for a $21.25 wage, a target she based on a sharp rise of inflation following the onset of the pandemic.

“Whether you work in Queens or Binghamton, all workers in New York deserve to be paid fairly for their labor,” Ramos said in a joint statement with Sen. Lea Webb, a Binghamton Democrat.

Business organizations who lobby the state, naturally, are not embracing amendments to the 2023 wage deal.

The Business Council of New York spokesperson Pat Bailey said in a statement to Playbook that any increase would be a “just another tax on small businesses,” adding, “The real significant burden of a minimum wage increase falls on the smallest employers across the entire state.”


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