Initiative aims to help area businesses pay workers $15 an hour

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Goal is to get 10,000 Rochester residents to $15 per hour in 2021

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative Thursday announced a new push to get struggling workers at least $15 an hour in Monroe County.

Speakers included Mayor Lovely Warren, County Executive Adam Bello, and Assemblyman Harry Bronson, all saying low wages in this country are the leading cause of poverty.

RMAPI said about 40 organizations in our area have made the commitment to give their employees $15 an hour, including the giants the University of Rochester and Rochester Regional Health.

“I know when we get back together next year, that list is going to be a lot bigger, and a lot longer,” said Bello. The goal is to get at least 10,000 Rochester residents to $15 per hour this year.

Bello adding this is about committing to pay equity and fairness. Aqua Porter with RMAPI says $15 an hour is the amount that can get a worker just over the poverty line.

“Around $29,000 or $30,000 a year, so that’s the number we’ve chosen,” says Porter.

For some workers, this could mean a raise of up to $4,800 per year. “I think that some people just don’t understand what a survival budget looks like, and this is housing, transportation, child care,” she says.

Other businesses in the region are encouraged to join in with this. Porter says for the businesses that aren’t able to, she says to please try and make an effort.

“I would say try to get closer. Like at least do the analysis to say if you can’t get to $15, maybe you can get to $14. But look at what your people are making and see if that feels right to you. See if that is equity. I talked to a mom last night who basically said ‘$15 is not enough, Aqua we are out there killing ourselves, and yet it’s hard for me to keep food on the table for my four kids,'” says Porter.

Assemblyman Harry Bronson said if the cost of living rises, he has a bill that would help as the years press on. 

“It would take the minimum wage and it would index it to a consumer index, which is basically an increase in the cost of living,” he says. Bronson adds it’s also certainty for employers. “They’re going to know what the increase is so they can plan accordingly,” he says.

Roughly 6,500 hundred Rochester residents have already made the jump to at least $15 an hour since this initiative began. To learn how to be a ‘level up champion’ business, click here.

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