cuomominwageThe mayors of upstate New York’s two largest cities on Wednesday committed to increasing the minimum wage for public employees to $15 by 2021 as part of a broader push by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reach the target wage statewide.

Cuomo made appearances in both Buffalo and Rochester, alongside those cities’ mayors, Democrats Byron Brown and Lovely Warren.

The announcement they would seek minimum wage increases for their workers comes a week after Cuomo announced he would increase the minimum pay for state workers to $15.

All of those announcements were preceded by Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a prominent Democratic critic of the governor, who increased city workers pay to $15 immediately.

The $15 minimum wage for public workers is largely symbolic: 500 workers in Buffalo would be impacted, while 10,000 workers statewide would see their wages increase to $15 over the next several years.

But the moves are designed to provide public pressure on the Legislature to follow suit later next year and pass a $15 wage for all workers.

The governor earlier this summer embraced an administrative move that will increase the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 over the next several years.

Cuomo, speaking in Rochester, spoke to the economic concerns of the middle class following a tepid recovery from the economic recession.

“People feel in the middle class and working families, they feel they are being left behind,” Cuomo said. “They feel this economy is not working for them. You know what? They’re right.”

The governor’s minimum wage rhetoric has increasingly pointed to concerns over those who earn poverty level wages.

“If you work full time you should not live in poverty, period,” Cuomo said.

Warren, the Rochester mayor, said the push to raise the wage to $15 for her was a matter of consistency.

“To be consistent, I believe I cannot advocate for one thing in the private sector without applying that same standard to City Hall,” Warren said.

Hours later at a similar event in Buffalo, Brown echoed her remarks.

“Raising the minimum wage is a smart, common-sense move that ensures opportunity reaches the people of our city and our state,” said Brown, who co-chaired Cuomo’s fast-food wage board this summer.

He said his own support for a $15 wage for city workers was a matter of “leading by example.”

“This can’t just be talk, this must be action,” he said.

Broadly speaking, business groups remain staunchly opposed to the $15 minimum wage. The current minimum pay in New York is $8.75 and is due to increase to $9 by the end of the year, based on a 2013 agreement in the Legislature.

Senate Republicans, who hold a narrow majority in the chamber, have criticized the administrative increase in the wage for fast-food workers and have vowed to hold hearings on the wage proposal.

Cuomo has floated the possibility of linking the wage increase to a tax cut aimed at businesses, though the size and scope of the proposal remains unknown.