News & Politics

City Council Set To Override Bloomberg’s Veto On Living Wage Bill

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Nearly 100 New Yorkers from coalitions across the city stood on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to claim victory for the Living Wage Bill.

The bill will
require companies that receive $1 million in city subsidies to
pay their employees a minimum wage of $10 — $11.50 if the employee does not have
healthcare coverage.

Earlier this month Bloomberg vetoed the bill, arguing that an increase in wages would “threaten job creation and future city projects.” While the living wage bill has been quite controversial, largely due to the Mayor’s threat to file a lawsuit if the council overrides his veto, members of the city council such as Tisha James intend to vote to override the Mayor’s decision this afternoon.

“I proudly cast my vote to override this veto,” said council member James to a cheering crowd. “Because I do not want to be on the side of history that would rob a city’s people and their children of a living wage.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has
called it “the most impactful living wage law in the United States” and has
helped make significant amendments to the document in a effort to get it
passed. While the bill will now require companies that directly receive
city subsidies to pay higher wages to employees it does not mandate the
same for companies that are tenants in the subsidized developments.

The fight for this bill has taken nearly three years, with Stuart
Applebaum and his coalition RWDSU (Retail Wholesale and Department Store
Union) leading the way among other
organizations such as FUREE (Families United For Racial and Economic
Equality), Community Voices and the Retail Action Project.

While supporters of the bill are claiming victory they acknowledge
the bill has a long way to go. Following its many revisions, the bill is
estimated to only impact 400-500 workers a year.

“This bill is
not everything we wanted,” said Applebaum. “But it establishes a very
important move forward that government jobs should not be there if they
do not allow people to support themselves and their families.”

Much like last month’s veto override for pay raises for service workers
at buildings that receive tax breaks from the city, the living wage bill
has enough council votes and is expected to be passed. The city council
will vote today around 3 p.m.

Check out more photos from the demonstration below.