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Politicians Say Bloomberg's Study Team Biased Against 'Living Wage'
New York Daily News
Adam Lisberg

November 8, 2010
View the Original Article

The Bloomberg administration has stacked the deck on a study of whether workers should be paid a "living wage" on city-backed developments, three city pols claim.

"The study will be subject to the biases of a study team that is being chosen by the mayor's office," wrote representatives of Controller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

They are three of 15 members of the Industrial Development Agency board and will ask the others on Monday to rescind their June decision to pay $1 million to study a living wage proposal.

It would require jobs at city-subsidized developments to pay $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 without benefits - higher than the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

A majority of the City Council and many unions back the proposal, saying it lets regular New Yorkers benefit from city subsidies to big developers.

Mayor Bloomberg and business leaders disagree, saying it would put a job-killing burden on businesses.

The three critics say the economists at Charles River Associates doing the study are opposed to any minimum wage at all and are working under terms set by the mayor.

"Their involvement in this process will not lead to a fair and balanced evaluation of the merits of a 'living wage,'" Diaz said.

Charles River Associates declined to comment.

Seth Pinsky, head of the city Economic Development Corp., defended the study as a rigorous examination by leading experts with no agenda but the truth.

"Just because we have opinions on the subject does not mean that we are 'cooking the books,'" Pinsky wrote in a response to the critics. "My recommendation would be for us to move forward in good faith and have a vigorous discussion about the results of this important study when they are available."

Progressive and labor leaders hope for a victory after Council Speaker Christine Quinn killed a bill requiring city businesses to offer paid sick leave.

It comes after the Council torpedoed a planned redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx last year when the developer would not agree to a living wage for retail workers there.