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New York City Council Holds Hearing on NYC Living Wage Law
Women of Color Policy Network Blog

May 13, 2011
View the Original Article

The New York City Council held its inaugural hearing yesterday on the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act (Int 0251-A), commonly referred to as the living wage bill. The Act would require all developments receiving more than $100,000 in city subsidies to pay its employees a living wage of at least $10 per hour with benefits, or $11.50 per hour without benefits.

Business opposition to the bill is said to be stronger than business opposition to the paid sick days bill, which was ultimately defeated. The hearing came on the heels of a study released by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which called the living wage bill a job-killer that would hurt the city's economy. Mayor Bloomberg cited the city's study in asserting that the bill "would decrease the number of people employed."

The National Employment Law Project, Fiscal Policy Institute, and Good Jobs New York released a counter analysis of the EDC study rendering it "fundamentally flawed." The bill is also supported by grassroots campaigns, such as the Living Wage NYC campaign - a movement for workers' rights and community benefits comprised of labor groups, community and faith-based organizations, elected officials, and advocates in New York City. The principle underlying the Living Wage NYC campaign is that when public dollars are used to promote private enterprise, the public has the right to expect something in return: good jobs at good wages with good benefits.

Among City Council members, the bill currently has 30 sponsors. Four more are needed to ensure a veto-proof majority. Speaker Quinn has yet to endorse or denounce the bill, and her decision to bring the bill to the floor for a vote would likely seal its fate.