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Living Wage Hearing Scheduled for Tomorrow
Norwood News
Jeanmarie Evelly

November 21, 2011
View the Original Article

Parties on both sides of the contentious living wage debate are gearing up for another fight tomorrow, as the City Council is scheduled to hold its second hearing on the bill–this time to consider recent revisions made to the legislation to appease critics and make it more business-friendly.

The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, sponsored by two Bronx City Council members and inspired by a political battle over wages at the Kingsbridge Armory two years ago, would require developers receiving substantial taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay workers $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without.

The bill’s backers made a number of changes to the legislation last month, essentially watering down the proposal after opponents–the city’s business community and Mayor Bloomberg, for starters–claimed the mandated wages would stifle development and kills jobs.

In the newly amended version, only projects receiving tax breaks of $1 million or more (up from $100,000) would have to comply with the law; manufacturing companies, commercial tenants in affordable housing projects, and small businesses earning less than $5 million in revenue would now be exempt.

The changes may not be enough to convince the bill’s opponents. According to today’s Daily News, the city’s major construction unions are fighting it. The legislation, however, has the backing of powerful labor and healthcare unions and a large swath of the city’s faith community, and according to the Times, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York–which has previously declined to weigh in on the bill–is now also on board.

Regardless, the future of the bill is in the hands of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who can kill it by refusing to bring it up for a vote on the council floor. She’s yet to take a stance on the issue.

Supporters of the Living Wage Campaign are holding a big rally tonight at Harlem’s Riverside Church; the City Council’s hearing is tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be covering both, so check back here on Breaking Bronx for updates.