NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — As the New York City Council prepares to debate living wages, Comptroller John Liu and several Council members joined clergy, community leaders and residents to demand passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports.

The legislation would use taxpayer subsidies to expand living wage jobs. The City Council scheduled a public hearing for Thursday afternoon.

Living wages mean $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without benefits.

Small business owners warned the bill would kill jobs and discourage economic growth.

“What retailer in their right mind is going to agree to sign leases in a place where they have to pay their employees 50 percent more than the minimum wage and the people down the block,” said Jack Friedman of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Nancy Ploeger, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, said, “In city after city wherever wage mandates have been tried, the very people who are supposed to be at benefit are hurt the most.”

Councilman Oliver Koppell says the fears of the business community are ill-founded.

“What we’re doing right now is we’re building projects where people can jobs that can support their families,” said  Koppell. “This is not a threat to economic development. It is a real attempt to make legitimate decent jobs available.”

Comments (7)
  1. Dale Auburn says:

    Instead of focusing on the wage, the City Council should force companies with CITY contracts to actually hire CITY residents instead of giving absolute preference to suburbanites.

  2. Judi says:

    In July 2009, a downsize ended my 30-year professional career the executive job that had supported my disabled husband and two young children until my executive position was eliminated in July 2009. I’ve found only sporadic work since, so I know that recession concerns are very real. But we need living wage legislation in NYC.

    The Federal Minimum Wage passed during the great depression, and actually helped pull our nation out. This same legislation exists successfully in many major cities and is helping, not hurting, local economies. As the gap between rich and poor yawns wider, we need to be careful who we listen to. Businesses need to maximize profit and shareholder value, so they will cut expenses and fight restrictions even when they are gleaning record profits and paying obscene executive bonuses. It really bothered me when the mayor sent $1 million of our dollars to Boston for his study when we have one of the greatest thinktanks in the world right here–and hurting. But I learned that the group he chose is known for writing reports opposing living wage legislation so I suppose the expense was for public relations, not real research.

    When I was a temporary census worker in East Harlem last summer, it disturbed me HOW MANY were unemployed. Sometimes we would get to chatting and I would ask if they had applied at the big Costco/Target development @ E 117 & the FDR. That complex had been built with enormous taxpayer subsidies, yet too many neighbors could not afford to abandon food benefits, unemployment and Medicaid to work for part-time minimum wage jobs. Several said they couldn’t even afford to shop there because the complex charged for parking–no validation for purchases.

    One of the best investments a community can make is to pay its poorer citizens a little bit more because that money will be spent, and multiply. I say join our right-thinking sister cities across this nation by passing a Living Wage Act in NYC just as soon as possible.

  3. Michael Paone says:

    Shane, it doesn’t affect small businesses.

  4. lemhuntington says:

    per the Living Wage NYC’s FAQs:

    “The types of employees covered include retail workers in subsidized shopping centers, concession workers at subsidized sports stadiums and cafeteria workers in subsidized office buildings. Small businesses, nonprofit organizations and affordable housing development projects are exempted from the living wage requirement.”

    The law will apply to any large projects being subsidized by New York City taxpayers. No Poverty Wages On Our Dime.

    1. Dale Auburn says:

      ANY company that gets city funds – including city agencies! – should be required to hire CITY RESIDENTS instead of giving priority to suburbanites.

  5. Shane Devino says:

    Oh… it’s time to tax all of those religious organizations. Why are they exempt from paying taxes? They are employed like everyone else.

  6. Shane Devino says:

    we are still in a RECESSION! Not everyone is spending… so how in the world do you think a minimum wage increase will benefit everyone? It will cause higher inflation. Small businesses will have to adjust by increasing prices and layoff workers. Small businesses can’t afford to provide benefits. Benefits are the cause of economic downfalls.

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