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The Date Is Set for NYC Living Wage Law Hearing: May 12
Lauren Kelley

May 3, 2011
View the Original Article

OK, well that was fast. Just a few days after I questioned the City Council's foot-dragging on a hearing for the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, Council Speaker Christine Quinn finally set a date. So mark your calendars -- the New York City living wage bill will get its initial hearing on Thursday, May 12. Crain's New York reports:

"The hearing is likely to draw a throng of union and clergy members, who have argued the bill is needed to help plug a widening income gap in the city. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is mobilizing proponents of the bill to attend. And it's likely to attract a crowd from the city's business community as well, which is beginning to muster an opposition campaign, led by an alliance of the city's five chambers of commerce."

The good news about the hearing being pushed to May (it had been tentatively slated for April) is that we now have some extra time to mobilize support for the bill and convince Speaker Quinn that she should endorse it. (Maybe we can leverage some of the awesome pro-worker energy we saw at the recent New York City Walmart hearing.)

Quinn has still not taken a stance on the measure, which remains five votes short of the two-thirds majority that will be needed to override an all-but-assured veto from Mayor Bloomberg. Her endorsement is critical to getting those last few votes. You can sign our petition urging Quinn to support the measure here.

Something else to note is that New York's Economic Development Corporation is expected to release a report on the potential economic impact of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act shortly before the May 12 hearing. You'll recall that a recent study by UC Berkeley Labor Center Chair Ken Jacobs concluded that a similar law enacted ten years ago in San Francisco had a positive effect on the city. As Jacobs writes, "San Francisco's labor standards laws do not appear to be deterring retailers who want to locate in the city or developers looking for tenants or project financing." Hopefully the New York researchers look at that data.

Although the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act would not do nearly enough to boost the paychecks of hard-working New Yorkers -- it would merely ensure a $10-$11.50 hourly wage for a small percentage of workers -- it would be a critical step in the fight for labor rights in New York City. Let's hope Quinn comes to see it that way.