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NYC's Living Wage Bill to Get Hearing in April
Change.org
Lauren Kelley

March 11, 2011
View the Original Article


Well that didn't take long. Two weeks after a sprawling City Limits article asked if a living wage law could be the next New York City council "battleground," and one week after the launch of a petition urging Council Speaker Christine Quinn to support such legislation, Quinn has said that the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act will get a City Council hearing in April.

This doesn't necessarily mean the bill will come up for a vote in April, but at least the issue will get some attention. It's an important step in the process. "We are looking at April for a hearing, though no specific date has been set," Quinn spokesperson Maria Alvarado told the Daily News, adding that Quinn has "not yet taken a position on the issue."

The latter quote, the one about Quinn having declined to take a position on living wage legislation, is the impetus behind Change.org's NYC living wage law campaign. Quinn, who has been so supportive on many important workers' rights issues (including the fight to keep Walmart at bay), has refused to come out in support of living wage legislation, even though it would have clear benefits for New York workers. Similarly, she never came out in favor of a New York paid sick leave bill, which suffered a tragic death in the city council last year. We don't want the same thing to happen again.

A refresher on what the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act is all about: Introduced by Bronx councilmembers Oliver Koppell and Anabel Palma, it would ensure that New Yorkers who work in large development projects that receive public subsidies get at least a $10/hour salary, which is considered New York City's living wage for a single adult with no children. Whether that is really a living wage is highly debatable. The bill would also give employees a $1.50 hourly bump if their employer doesn't offer health insurance. And it would exempt very small mom-and-pop establishments who might legitimately be hurt by such constraints. At least 15 other U.S. cities have similar laws on the books and have suffered no ill effects, economically speaking.

All of this seems eminently reasonable, doesn't it? New York City Comptroller John C. Liu thinks so. “It is not only reasonable, but should be demanded, that economic development projects heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars create living wage jobs, not poverty-wage jobs," Liu said in a statement for Living Wage NYC.

If you agree, tell Christine Quinn you want her to stand up for New York workers, and actively support the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.

Click here to sign the petition.