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NYC Living Wage Hearing: "We Aren't Here Just to Survive. We Want to Live."
Lauren Kelley

May 16, 2011
View the Original Article

After a year of delays, false starts, and toe-tapping from the city's labor community, the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act finally got its much-anticipated initial City Council hearing last week. Wondering what went down? We've got you covered.

For one thing, living wage supporters were out in full force. Hundreds of people, including faith and community leaders and City Councilmembers, turned up at a rally organized by Living Wage NYC. "We are not here just to survive. We want to live," said Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron, addressing the cheering crowd. "New York City is too expensive to be paying us some cheap wages."

According to NY1, the hearing itself was "packed" and featured some "testy exchanges" between Councilmembers on either side of the issue. Perhaps the best soundbite of the hearing came from Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who noted, "the [Bloomberg] administration is so full of it, you might want to consider a high-fiber diet." Snap.

The administration was clearly hoping that the biased study for which it paid $1 million to known anti-living wage researchers would dull interest in the living wage bill. But that didn't work at all. If anything, the rigged report -- which purported that the bill would lead to mass job loss -- just added fuel to the fire for pro-living wage advocates. A counter-report published by the National Employment Law Project and other groups on Thursday further stole the administration's thunder; it found that "errors in methodology and analysis" in the city-funded report "render the study fundamentally flawed." (No surprise there, but it's good to have it in writing!)

As for a decision from the City Council, that will be harder to come by, it seems. Despite popular support for the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, only 30 Councilmembers have come out in support of the bill -- not enough to override an assured veto from Mayor Bloomberg. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the "wild card" in this debate and the target of our petition, remains undecided. "When I've made a decision, I'll have made a decision," she said on Wednesday, unhelpfully.

Sign our petition urging Quinn to take a stand for hard-working New Yorkers.