Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich, currently a candidate for the State Senate against Joe Addabbo, announced he supports legislation to increase New York State’s minimum wage to $8.50 this evening. The move places him on the opposite side of the issue than Majority Leader Dean Skelos and the Republican conference, who steadfastly oppose the legislation.
“People are hurting in Queens and the current minimum wage simply isn’t enough to make ends meet for families here,” Mr. Ulrich said in a statement. “Single parent households are especially hit hard by the rising cost of living in New York. The bottom line is that there simply aren’t enough hours in the week at $7.25 per hour to pay the rent or mortgage and to buy the basic household items they need. I have listened to both sides of this argument, but one truth resonates more than any other: If we don’t take this action, too many families are going to go under.”
The Democrats in the State Senate and Assembly have been pushing hard for the minimum wage boost and have sent signals that they aim to make it a key campaign issue in November, but Mr. Ulrich, campaigning in a swing district, clearly isn’t interested in being bludgeoned on the issue.
It’s hardly Mr. Ulrich’s first break from the party orthodoxy, however. He’s come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, was the only Republican in the City Council to vote for rent stabilization, and co-sponsored paid sick leave legislation.
In the release, he tried to frame the issue as nonpartisan.
“The minimum wage should not be a partisan issue,” he argued. “I believe that people who work hard to support their families deserve a better standard of living.”