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Bloomberg Expected to Battle "Fair Wage" Bill
John Del Signore

May 24, 2010
View the Original Article

Two City Council members from the Bronx are set to introduce legislation that would require developers who receive taxpayer subsidies to pay workers at least $10 an hour, plus benefits. Despite opposition from real estate groups, similar laws have been passed in cities such as LA, San Francisco and Santa Fe, N.M. But after fighting off a fair wage mandate for the defunct Kingsbridge Armory development last year, the Bloomberg administration is expected to try to kill this bill, called The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.

Sponsored by Councilman G. Oliver Koppell and Councilwoman Annabel Palma, the bill would affect developers that receive public subsidies worth more than $100,000, whether they get it in discounted land sales, tax credits or other incentives. Wages would increase to keep up with inflation, and Koppel says, "The idea is, where government subsidies are involved, the people who receive those subsidies should not be paying poverty-level wages." According to the Times, the Bloomberg administration has argued that "projects needing subsidies should not be burdened with extra wage requirements, and that in a stagnant economy, job creation should be paramount."

But Rubén Díaz Jr., the Bronx borough president who played a major role in squashing the shopping mall proposed for Kingsbridge Armory, says, "If you want charity, you have to be charitable. If you want a public benefit to your project, then your project has to benefit the public. It’s a simple equation." There will be a major rally at City Hall to push for the law tomorrow, and all eyes are on Council speaker Christine C. Quinn. She voted against the Armory project, but has not yet commented on the fair wage bill.