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Bloomberg Subverts Peoples’ Will, Vetoes Landmark Living Wage Legislation
Supporters Condemn Billionaire Mayor, Urge Council to Override Veto and Implement Law
New York, NY—Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act today brings into sharp focus his legacy as the billionaire Mayor who enriched his class of friends at the expense of the hardworking taxpayers of New York City.
The Living Wage NYC Coalition urges the City Council to override the Mayor’s veto so the city can move forward with the work at hand, ensuring that tax dollars are used to create good paying jobs for New Yorkers.
“With this veto, Mayor Bloomberg has cemented his legacy as the mayor of the rich, by the rich and for the rich,” said Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera, Director, Latino Pastoral Action Center and. “He has missed his opportunity to support New Yorkers as they strive to be productive, contributing citizens.”
The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act grew out of a historic citywide campaign for living wage jobs and economic justice. It passed the New York City Council by a wide margin of 45-5 on April 30, drawing praise from elected officials, labor leaders, faith leaders, and business owners.
“Mayor Bloomberg stands firmly on the wrong side of history. Clergy in New York City are saying, ‘The reign of the rich is over!’ A new day has dawned in New York City,” said Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, PhD., Director, Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary.
The campaign spawned a highly visible and vocal movement that engaged thousands of New Yorkers and led to overwhelming support for the legislation across the political spectrum—74% of voters overall, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, with 60% percent of Republicans saying it is government’s responsibility to ensure workers are paid a decent wage.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy is one of disrespect: extending his term against the will of the people and now labeling honest working class people as Communists for wanting to earn a decent living wage so they can take care of their families. The Living Wage NYC Coalition will remain in this fight until all workers are treated fairly and paid justly!” exclaimed Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, President, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.
Under the terms of the legislation, any private development project directly accepting $1 million or more in taxpayer subsidies must pay employees a living wage of $10/hour with supplemental health benefits or $11.50/hour without benefits. The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act reforms the city’s taxpayer-funded economic development programs, which have failed to create good jobs for New Yorkers over the past decade because, until now, they lacked enforceable wage standards of any kind.
This legislation will put an end to the failed policy of spending billions of public dollars on poverty wage jobs and fundamentally transform the city’s approach to job creation and economic development. At a time of rising poverty and strained public resources, the living wage legislation is an act of fiscal responsibility and fundamental fairness: it establishes strong wage standards for jobs created via subsidized economic development projects, giving low-wage New Yorkers and taxpayers alike a boost. It will cover projects overseen by the largest urban economic development agency in the United States, New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and will have a far-reaching impact on thousands of future jobs in the city.
“We are proud to have played a lead role in building the living wage movement and shaping this legislation. The city needs to create higher-wage jobs, not poverty-wage jobs. An override of the Mayor’s veto will be a major triumph for working people, for democracy, and for our city. It will be a significant step toward reducing inequality and poverty in our city,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW).