Best living wage bill?


Speaker Christine Quinn weakened the living wage bill when she exempted tenants from the legislation.

Still, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has repeatedly said it would be the strongest living wage law in the nation. Ms. Quinn also said it would be the most impactful living wage law in the nation.

But Ms. Quinn’s office says the laws will affect about 400 to 500 low-wage workers per year, according to The New York Times.

To put that into some perspective, let’s take a look at how many living wage workers were affected when other cities enacted living wage laws.

Approximately 600 workers were affected in San Jose, a city with less than 1 million people when a living wage law was passed in 1998, according to a study on living wage by the University of Washington. The subsidy threshold is lower than what will be required to trigger the law New York. The definition of “living wage” also changes with the cost of living.

Right now, any developer receiving $100,000 or more in taxpayer subsides in San Jose is required to pay $13.59 per hour with health benefits or $14.84 per hour without benefits, according to the city’s website.

 Compare that to New York’s $1 million subsidy threshold and requirement to pay $10 per hour with benefits and $11.50 without, and San Jose has a stronger living wage bill than New York.

In Los Angeles the subsidy threshold is also $100,000 and the living wage requirement is attached to inflation.
When Los Angeles enacted the bill in 1998, according to the University of Washington study, 7,626 workers were affected.

Councilman Oliver Koppell, a sponsor for the bill, said there are two ways to compare New York’s bill to other cities.  

“In Los Angeles it is highly discretionary. It’s looked at by a project-by-project basis,” he said, adding that New York’s law would, for the most part, be an across-the board mandate.

“One could say this law is stronger. On the other hand in Los Angeles it covers a lot of people,” he said.