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New York Times Backs Living Wage Bill
Norwood News
Jeanmarie Evelly

December 28, 2011
View the Original Article

In an editorial printed on Christmas day, the New York Times endorsed the controversial living wage bill that’s been lingering in the City Council for nearly two years–the second major endorsement the legislation’s received this month. Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, considered a frontrunner in a crowded field of contenders expected to run for Mayor in 2013, announced his support for it last week.

The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, introduced by two Bronx council members and born out of a heated debate over a shopping mall planned for the Kingsbridge Armory, would require developers that get significant taxpayer subsidies to pay workers higher wages. In Sunday’s editorial, the Times calls the bill “long overdue.”

“This bill makes sense,” the piece reads. “A wage of $10 an hour would help lift thousands of New Yorkers above the poverty line.”

It also dismissed the main criticism of the bill–that it would squash economic development–by pointing to other cities, like Los Angeles and Philadelphia, that have similar laws and continue to thrive. It also highlighted Mayor Bloomberg’s previous support for a wage mandate bill in 2002 as contradictory to his current, adamant opposition to the idea of a wage requirement.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., one of the bill’s main supporters and the driving force behind a push for living wages at the Kingsbridge Armory two years ago, sent out a statement following the Times editorial.

“This major endorsement shows that we have momentum on our side, and that more and more New Yorkers agree that the ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers’ Act is good public policy,” he said.

The endorsement is the latest in a string of good news for living wage supporters. In addition to De Blasio’s support, a recent Quinnipiac Poll found that New Yorkers support the bill by a margin of 74-19 percent.

The legislation currently has the vote of 29 City Council members, but needs 34 to override the almost-certain veto it would get from Mayor Bloomberg. Council Speaker Christine Quinn will decide whether or not to bring the bill up for a vote, and she’s yet to publicly support or oppose it. De Blasio’s endorsement, however, could put extra pressure her–Quinn is also considered a top potential mayoral candidate–to take a stance.