Dying for wages
By Adam Wisnieski
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is changing his tune on living wage jobs. On Monday night’s BronxTalk, host Gary Axelbank brought up a Bronx Overall Economic Development Committee notice released in August that advertised jobs at Fresh Direct paying $8.75 per hour.
Mr. Axelbank questioned Mr. Diaz on why he would approve of giving Fresh Direct $130 million in subsidies to move to the Bronx if it was going to create jobs below the living wage line.
“These are the jobs that you basically protested at the Kingsbridge Armory … yet you endorse these jobs for Fresh Direct plan,” Mr. Axelbank said.
At the risk of sounding like the editorial board at the New York Post, let’s look at a quote from 2009 when Mr. Diaz was instrumental in killing a mayor-backed plan to build a shopping mall at the Kingsbridge Armory.
“The notion that any job is better than no job no longer applies,” Mr. Diaz said then.
How did he respond to Mr. Axelbank’s question?
“These specific job descriptions are less than a living wage is not my fault,” Mr. Diaz said. “The reason being is that for over a year we were pushing for the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act in the City Council.”
This is a man who had the power and the nerve to successfully defeat Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s mall plan for the Kingsbridge Armory, but couldn’t do anything to delay a deal with Fresh Direct for two months so the living wage bill could be in effect? And Speaker Christine Quinn had already announced her support of the living wage bill in January, so it was only a matter of when, not if, the living wage bill would pass the City Council.
“Unfortunately that debate was settled after there was an agreement with Fresh Direct,” Mr. Diaz said on BronxNet.
Earlier in the interview, when Mr. Axelbank brought up a lawsuit from South Bronxites attempting to block the Fresh Direct project, Mr. Diaz sounded like his harshest critics from a few years ago.