Protesters At Capitol Seek Minimum Wage Increase (Video Added)

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Members of the Occupy Albany movement chanted their support for a minimum-wage increase at the Capitol today, though their intended audience was nowhere to be found, Gannett’s Aaron Scholder reports.

The group of 30 or so protestors marched through the ornate building to deliver letters showing their interest to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County.

However, with the Legislature not in session following the Memorial Day holiday, the group was told by a security guard that Skelos was on Long Island. They were forced to slip the letter under the door.

Cuomo and the Legislature are expected back in Albany on Wednesday. The state Assembly earlier this month passed legislation that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour in January.

Senate Republicans oppose the measure, and Cuomo said he would like to see an increase, but hasn’t publicly supported the Assembly bill.

The group, citing a report last week from the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute, said 880,000 workers would benefit from an immediate increase in the minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour. The group chastised Skelos and Cuomo in their letters, accusing them of not caring about the poorest members of the state.

“We’re trying to get a living wage. Because of inflation, the minimum wage has shrunk,” said Sheldon Carnes, 65, of Troy, Rensselaer County. “We’d like to do it … so people don’t have to struggle with three or four jobs to get by.”

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