2016 New Yorkers of the Year Successfully Fought to Raise Minimum Wage
This election year, NY1 asked viewers to vote online for your New Yorkers of the Year, and you chose a group that won a battle for a better wage. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
We changed things up in 2016. For the first time, you chose our New Yorkers of the Year in an online poll.
The four finalists included activists who proved you could fight City Hall.
Community groups in Inwood and Sunnyside rose up to convince lawmakers that building up would ruin their neighborhoods.
Another finalist was good-government groups keeping an eye on politicians. In a year with fraud sentences and corruption investigations, their work was needed.
"Here in New York, we expect our elected officials to work first and foremost for the people," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.
The family of Avonte Oquendo worked to enact a national version of Avonte's Law.
The city moved to protect children with autism after the teenager's death three years ago. Similar measures passed the Senate and House in 2016.
But your choice for the top honor this year was those who fought to raise New York State's minimum wage.
Thousands of everyday New Yorkers took their impassioned pleas to the streets and to the capital.
“That amount totals out to like $300 to $350 to $400 a week, every two weeks," said Maria DeLaura, a crossing guard fighting for minimum wage. "That’s not enough money to make ends meet.”
Their efforts paid off. In April, Governor Cuomo signed legislation enacting a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage plan.
"The thanks goes to the New Yorkers who got involved, put aside their institutional differences and their political differences to make this law a reality," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
It's a reality for 2.3 million New Yorkers.
That is why those who successfully fought for $15 are your New Yorkers of the Year.