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Fair Wages for New Yorkers
El Diario

June 2, 2010
View the Original Article


For too long, the Bronx has been tagged as the county with some of the highest poverty rates in the nation. This is not going to change if workers are earning poverty wages.

The proposed Fair Wages for New Yorkers aims to move workers toward a living wage. The act would guarantee that when New York City awards public subsidies to businesses, the jobs they create will pay at least a living wage.

In most cases, developers who receive public subsidies worth more than $100,000 would have to pay workers $10 with benefits, $11.50 without. Both the living wage and the health benefits supplement would receive cost of living adjustments.

More than 140 municipalities have a fair wage law in place, emphasizes Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, the head of the Living Wage NYC Campaign. So New York is out of pace with cities like San Diego, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Yet developers and Mayor Bloomberg are bucking the bill. Their take is that any job is better than nothing at all, and nothing will be outcome if the city makes too many demands of developers.

But what is the back-breaking demand? Paying a worker $10 an hour? This hardly sounds like what is needed to survive in a high cost city. And the resistance runs counter to a mayoral administration committed to reducing poverty.

This Act brings another major question into focus: what are New Yorkers getting in return for tens of millions of dollars in public money and tax breaks that developers receive?

New Yorkers deserve more than part-time, minimum wage, no benefit jobs from developers receiving public subsidies. A citywide policy on fair wages is a step in the right direction.

The fair wages proposal has to go through the legislative process, one that should not be dragged out. More than 20 council members are backing the bill.

We are waiting for more Council members to publicly declare their support and build a veto-proof majority. This would give families a fighting chance to progress in this city.