NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A controversial bill that will provide higher wages for some blue collar workers was struck down by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday.
While the move has huge political implications, the mayor ducked questions and left the press conference, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
With harsh words and the stroke of his pen, Bloomberg vetoed the prevailing wage bill and said the same fate awaits the living wage bill.
“Those bills are a throw back to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked rather than a garden to be cultivated,” Bloomberg said. “These two bills would make it harder and more costly to bring economic opportunity to all five boroughs. They would make it harder and more costly for businesses to start, harder and more costly for businesses to stay, and harder and more costly for businesses to strive.”
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The prevailing wage bill would force employers to raise salaries by as much as 45 percent for hundreds of service workers at buildings that receive city tax breaks. The living wage bill would raise wages for those who work at projects that get city money, like Coney Island, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
The measure would have required any company receiving at least $1 million in city subsidies to pay its employees at least $11.50 an hour or $10 an hour plus benefits. The city’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
“Government cannot bend the laws of the labor market without breaking the bank,” Bloomberg said.
But after saying his peace about the controversial bills the mayor clammed up. Kramer tried to ask questions, but Bloomberg seemed like he was going for the indoor speed record for leaving a press conference.
So why didn’t the mayor take questions? Aides said it was because he didn’t want to politicize an issue that is supported by all the Democrats who want to replace him.
However, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a top contender for the Democratic mayoral nomination, quickly attacked Bloomberg.
“I think the mayor absolutely made a wrong decision,” Quinn said.
Quinn implied the mayor was two-faced.
“In 2002 the mayor signed into law a living wage bill. It covers 60,000 home health aides, social workers and other building service workers, the very workers covered by some of our legislation,” Quinn said.
Some said the mayor’s move is anti-union and pro-business. Quinn said she’ll override.
The mayor said if the City Council does override his veto he will go to court and challenge the legality of the legislation.
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