Thursday, October 6, 2011

Living wage proposal scaled back

Another story from this week's paper. Enjoy!

By Brendan McHugh

Bronx City Council members G. Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma have cut back on demands of the dubious ‘living wage’ bill, hoping to quiet critics. 

The bill has the support of 30 of the 51 members of the Council, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg and high-powered business leaders in the city oppose it heavily. 

City Council speaker Christine Quinn has thus far neglected to take a position on the bill and allow for a vote, would require employees working in city-subsidized projects to be paid $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without. Minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. 

“We made a whole series of concessions to try and satisfy the objections that we didn’t see going to the heart of the proposal,” Koppell said. “They do narrow the focus of the proposal.”

Jump below for the full story.

Monday, they introduce an amended version of the bill that would exclude manufacturing businesses and companies with less than $5 million in annual revenue or under $1 million in city subsidies. Originally, a company receiving only $100,000 would have been required to adhere to the living wage. The amended measure would also require companies to pay the living wage for only 10 years, down from 30 in the original proposal. 

Koppell said the decision to eliminate manufacturing jobs was because the people in those jobs move up the pay scale “fairly quickly.” 

“We’re desperate to encourage manufacturing,” he said. 

“We made it clear that no supportive housing … should be affected by this,” he added, because they did not want non-profit housing developers to oppose the bill. 

The ultimate decision may be left up to Quinn, who will have to decide if she sides with her grassroots followers, who projected her to where she is now, and bring the bill to a vote, or to business leaders, who will play a major role in the 2013 mayoral campaigns, and keep the bill off the Council floor.

Koppell has not heard back from Quinn yet, though mayoral and business spokespeople still vehemently oppose the bill. 

The city’s Economic Development Corporation has resisted the proposal, citing a $1 million study it commissioned, which found that a wage requirement would hurt employment in the city. Koppell and others criticized the study, saying that because the mayor opposes the bill, the study was slanted and biased. 

The mayor’s office said while they haven’t seen the new bill, they would not support a bill that will impose new costs on employers trying to create jobs and invest in the city. 

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, with the Five Boro Chamber Alliance, the Real Estate Board of New York, the New York Nightlife Association, and the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, among others, also oppose the bill, saying wage mandates in the current economic climate are too risky. 

The groups have formed a coalition and plan on writing to Koppell, though he and the other supporting council members are certain they have addressed their concerns. 

“We think that we’ve met the objections of most people,” he said. “But not shopping center developers like what was at the Kingsbridge Armory. Retail and commercial activity in such centers is the objective of this bill if we took them out, we’d have nothing.” 

The living wage saga rocketed to the spotlight when The Related Cos. was ready to put a shopping mall in the armory, but after local elected officials demanded the retail shops pay their employees a living wage—almost $3 more than minimum wage—the developer backed out. 

Koppell mentioned that with the new changes, the bill now looks even more similar to a living wage law in Los Angeles that has not affected job growth.

No comments:

Post a Comment