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A Living Wage in New York
New York Times

July 27, 2011
View the Original Article

To the Editor:

Re “They, Too, Sing America” (column, July 16):

Charles M. Blow is right on the mark when he writes, “The people who work these [low-wage] jobs are the backbone of this country, and will continue to be.” In New York City, more low-wage workers are employed in retail than in any other sector of the economy, and the number of these jobs continues to increase.

The fast growth in low-wage retail jobs is spurred by publicly subsidized development. Yet almost half of retail workers in New York earn less than $10 an hour.

Should taxpayers be subsidizing development that results in poverty-wage jobs? We don’t think so. That’s why we are leading a coalition that seeks passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.

This vital legislation requires large developers receiving sizable public subsidies to pay a minimum of $10 an hour plus benefits, or $11.50 an hour without benefits, to all employees. Other cities that have begun to guarantee living wages on publicly subsidized development projects have found that such safeguards have not slowed growth or prevented projects from moving forward.

New York, July 20, 2011

The writers are, respectively, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; and senior pastor, Convent Avenue Baptist Church of Harlem.