Every year, New York City spends billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize economic development and create new jobs – funding everything from the Bronx Gateway Mall and Yankee Stadium, to the new Goldman Sachs building and the redevelopment of Coney Island. But too often, the jobs created with these public subsidies pay poverty wages with no benefits–whether it’s retail and stockroom jobs at shopping centers, mailroom and security guard jobs in office buildings, or food service jobs at stadiums.
By contrast, other cities such as Pittsburgh and Los Angeles require fair wages on many of their subsidized projects. These policies have created good jobs for low-income communities without slowing economic growth. It’s time for New York to follow their lead and require fair wage guarantees for all large development projects in the city.
The recent struggle for living wage jobs at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx makes clear that New York needs a citywide wage policy for developments that are subsidized by taxpayer dollars. Without action, we face continued growth in working poverty as the city emerges from recession.
New Yorkers want and deserve to know that their tax dollar investments will result in living wage jobs for their communities. And developers want and deserve to know with certainty the standards their plans must meet in order to gain City Council approval.
The proposed Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act will do this by requiring that developers who receive major taxpayer-funded subsidies must pay at least a living wage for the jobs they create. This new law will ensure that as New York’s economy recovers, we invest in rebuilding the good jobs that our city needs.
* Guarantee that workers in large development projects receiving public subsidies are paid at least the New York City living wage of $10 an hour
* Index the living wage to inflation so that it increases every year and keeps pace with the cost of living
* Require that employees who do not receive health insurance from their employer receive an additional $1.50 per hour wage supplement to help them purchase their own health insurance
* Apply the living wage guarantee to all workers at a subsidized development project, regardless of whether they are employed directly by the developer or by the project’s tenants or on-site service contractors
Ensuring living wages for the city’s low-wage workforce is critical for fighting poverty and rebuilding New York’s middle class. 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.
It’s time that New Yorkers enjoy the benefits of living wage jobs from economic development that is subsidized with their taxpayer dollars.