Court Challenges May Forestall Living Wage

June 29, 2012
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
The Living Wage NYC Coalition marched to City Hall on Thursday, June 28 to show support for the City Council vote to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act. The Council body indeed overrode the Mayor’s veto, but he has threatened to seek an injunction in court against the legislation claiming that higher wages paid to workers working for developers who receive more than $1 million in public subsidies will prevent business growth and expansion.

Stuart Applebaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the leading union in the campaign, said when asked about Bloomberg’s injunction challenge, “The people of New York should feel very lucky that his term is coming to an end. We are confident that the next Mayor, whoever that may be, will stand with the people of New York as opposed to Mayor Bloomberg who only seems only to stand with the 1 percent.”

That may not be the best news for workers working on projects right now that have received public money and are not earning a living wage. But Applebaum stressed that, “There are people who came up will all sorts of reasons of why we shouldn’t have done it [the legislation campaign], but the bottom line is to ensure that workers working on projects supported by public money be paid a living wage.”Living Wage proponents rally

Appelbaum also stressed that any public money going to private developers should give that benefit back to the city in the form of higher wages. “The city has the right to expect developers pay a living wage.”

A source also noted that what makes the legislation so important is that it really focuses on the power interests of the city—the real estate industry.

“The living wage legislation attracted so much antagonism from businesses because they’re getting a benefit and we’re telling them now you have to provide the benefit. They don’t like it when they have to take something out of their pocket.”

However, another source indicated that in addition to Bloomberg’s court challenge, other stakeholders who have opposed the legislation may go to court because they believe it’ll be a hardship to businesses at a time when the economy is still recovering.

“If some developers proceed to court, and given the slow process of litigation, it could be some time before workers see $10 an hour, maybe not until the next administration in 2014.”   marc@laborpress.org   

June 29, 2012

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