New York's businesses, legislators and labor advocates are turning their attention back to a bill that would guarantee a living wage for employees working on city-subsidized projects.
The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act has actually been kicking around since last spring, but it keeps eluding passage. Now, Bronx councilmember Oliver Koppell, who helped introduce the bill, is actively pushing it in the city council once again. Here's what the bill would accomplish (via Living Wage NYC):
--Guarantee that workers in large development projects receiving public subsidies are paid at least the New York City living wage of $10 an hour
--Index the living wage to inflation so that it increases every year and keeps pace with the cost of living
--Require that employees who do not receive health insurance from their employer receive an additional $1.50 per hour wage supplement to help them purchase their own health insurance
--Apply the living wage guarantee to all workers at a subsidized development project, regardless of whether they are employed directly by the developer or by the project’s tenants or on-site service contractors
Critics of the bill, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, argue that it would make development projects prohibitively expensive and create an un-level playing field, since employers may not want to move into spaces where they're required to pay higher wages. But proponents of the legislation counter that there are roughly 15 cities that have already passed similar living-wage laws and have suffered no ill consequences as a result.
According to a recent article in City Limits, the bill currently has 29 sponsors, which is five short of the two-thirds majority the council will need to override the mayor's veto. According to the article, the "wild card" who could make or break the legislation is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has been amazing in speaking out against a New York City Walmart but refused to publicly support the New York paid sick leave bill.
We're hoping Quinn will not hold her tongue on this issue as well. Tell Speaker Quinn that you think it's only fair that companies receiving public funds pay workers a basic living wage -- and you think she should support the bill as well.