Fight for fair wages



Councilman Oliver Koppell is serious about the battle for a living wage in New York City. 

Not only did he co-sponsor the Fair Wages For New Yorkers Act, he has also said that he would consider discharging the bill out of committee — a rare move that requires a majority vote — to bring the legislation to the City Council floor if Speaker Christine Quinn does not support doing so.  

The bill has been stalled for more than a year even though it has majority support.

“There are clearly areas in which this legislation has been adopted by other municipalities and has worked to increase wages for a certain substantial number of workers,” Mr. Koppell said, after a City Council hearing on the issue last week. 

However, some say living wage legislation will scare developers away because it would require those who receive taxpayer subsidies of over $100,000 to pay $10 per hour with benefits and $11.50 without; that it would actually hurt the low-wage earners it seeks to help.

The same argument is still used by opponents of the minimum wage every time a raise is proposed. It was also the conclusion of a recently released report commissioned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has vehemently opposed the living wage legislation. 

Paid for by the city’s Economic Development Corporation at the cost of $1 million, the report on a yet-to-be-released study does not take into account the increased spending power of living wage earners or  decreased spending on welfare programs when workers make enough to pay their own way. It also does not discuss how prevailing wage or living wage laws for home health care workers have affected the city. Meanwhile, other studies, such as The Impact of Living Wages on Employers: A Control Group Analysis of the Los Angeles Ordinance, have found that living wage laws have no impact on employment levels. 

Oliver Koppell, living wage, legislation,
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