The City Council is set to take up a bill today that would set a living wage standard in New York.
Supporters of the bill gathered at Riverside Church yesterday.
The measure would require some companies doing business with the city to pay $10 an hour plus benefits or $11.50 without.
While supporters say the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not enough, opponents say the bill will do more harm than good by driving business out of the city and hurting an already struggling economy.
"The money that you get it's next to impossible to pay rent much less buy food. It's a very difficult way to make a living," said former chain store employee Nick Pellman.
"I'm all about higher wages, but unfortunately I have to operate in the real world, and there are economic forces beyond our control which determine what wages are going to be," said Jack Kittle of District Council 9.
Critics say the living wage guarantee is what doomed a plan to develop the old Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.
Small business owners and non-profits would be exempt from the law.