News & Politics

Mike Bloomberg On Living Wage Disagreement With Christine Quinn: ‘I’m Going to Her Wedding’


The ongoing disagreement between Mike Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on living wage legislation isn’t damaging their relationship, the mayor said today.

Or at least, he’s still planning on attending her upcoming wedding — and doesn’t think the controversial bills are going to be much of a topic of discussion at the celebration.

“All I know is I’m going to her wedding, and we’re gonna have a good time, and I don’t think that living wage is going to come up as a subject at the wedding,” Bloomberg told reporters today.

Questions this morning about the mayor’s office clashing with the City Council came a day after Bloomberg vetoed Quinn’s prevailing and living wage bills, which essentially would require that businesses pay employees higher wages — $10 an hour plus benefits, instead of the current $7.25 minimum hourly wage — at some city-subsidized developments.

The legislation has gained a lot of attention in part because it represents a significant, public disagreement between Quinn, an expected mayoral candidate, and Bloomberg, who are typically seen as being fairly aligned in their pro-business politics.

Bloomberg says the legislation is a job-killer that will discourage businesses from coming to the city, but Quinn, backed by labor unions and her colleagues in the City Council, argues that it is an important step in helping working families better make ends meet.

For Quinn — who is generally considered to have the most similar politics to Bloomberg out of all the pols expected to run for mayor in 2013 — the living wage issue has been an opportunity for her to distance herself from the mayor, but it has proven to be a bit of a tricky dance. She did criticize Bloomberg yesterday after his expected veto, casting the decision as hypocritical one given the mayor’s support of similar legislation for a specific sector of workers when he first stepped into office.

While the two pols are clearly misaligned on the issue, it might be something of a controlled disagreement, and Bloomberg has implied that Quinn and the Council are aware of some of the negative impacts of the bill, since, he argues, they deliberately delayed the legislation so that a large FreshDirect project could avoid the requirements (a claim which Quinn denied yesterday).

Today, a Times reporter, who noted yesterday that Quinn declined to sharply criticize the mayor, asked Bloomberg why he thought Quinn would pass this bill if she’s aware it could endanger certain projects.

“I would suggest that you address that question to the speaker,” Bloomberg said before rambling on about her wedding next month, which is now gaining attention, since Quinn has been a loud advocate for same-sex marriage.

Another reporter today also asked the mayor about Quinn’s claims that Bloomberg is contradicting his record on supporting similar legislation, prompting the mayor to offer pretty much the same defense of his veto that he gave yesterday.

“Look, the same people that want to give subsidies and have taxpayers subsidize people’s workers, complain about us giving money to capital projects…The truth of the matter is you cannot go and change the marketplace…Companies have to be able to afford the labor, or they will not go and hire them. There are some people who have had wages so low that they can’t possibly survive. I’m in favor of raising the minimum wage…but picking and choosing specific industries…is just not an economic plan that makes any sense whatsoever,” said Bloomberg.

It’s expected that the City Council will have enough votes to override Bloomberg’s veto.

If it does pass, the mayor plans to sue.

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