News & Politics

NYC Living Wage Bill Heads to Court


‘Living’ sounds much better than ‘minimum.’

When Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced the introduction of a ‘living’ wage bill, Mayor Bloomberg compared the gesture to Soviet statism in April, arguing that “the last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR, and that didn’t work out well.”
Unfortunately for him, the rest of the City Council didn’t see eye-to-eye on his shrieks of socialism: in June, the City Council overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s veto on a bill that would establish what has been called a ‘living’ wage, which would pay any worker in a firm that receives city subsidies at least $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 without benefits. The margin against the Hozziner was indeed vast: the veto was thrown out in a 46-5 vote.
But the bill that resulted was much more watered down than the original idea: in it, firms had to receive over $1 million in subsidies and make over $5 million all together in revenue every year to qualify. Now, the ‘big managed economy’ that Bloomberg warned against only affects about 400 to 500 people.
Regardless, the Mayor’s office is still taking the legislation to court.
The lawyers for the City filed a suit with the Manhattan Supreme Court yesterday on the basis that the ‘living’ wage bill infringed upon national and state laws of minimum wage. Also, they argued that the bill interferes with Bloomberg’s executive privilege to negotiate economic deals. According to the Mayor, the bill threatens businesses, especially industrial firms, real estate developers and a whole slew of contractors.
The City Council is fighting fire with fire, assuring it will meet the Mayor in court over the bill. As of now, the bill is deemed to take effect in late September. In a statement, Christine Quinn vented her frustration over the Mayor’s decision to sue the legislative branch of Gotham – a move that hasn’t happened in years:
“It is disappointing that the mayor has chosen to challenge these laws rather than enforce them. The Council stands by this legislation, and we look forward to proving our case in court.”
While the powers-that-be strive to bring legal matters into the situation, the workers on minimum wage are still living in this expensive city on $7.25 an hour. And Lord knows how much Bloomberg makes in a single day on the job. Anyway, it looks as if we’ve got ourselves a court showdown on our hands come fall.

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