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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Speaker Quinn Speaks; Consents to Living Wage Hearing

For months, advocates of living wage legislation, including 30 members of the City Council, have pushed to get the bill a hearing, a necessary step in getting the measure through the chamber.

The stumbling block has been Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was boosted into the Council from a progressive foundation of community organizing and housing advocacy. But in positioning herself to run for mayor, Quinn has tiptoed carefully between business interests and the determined campaigns of labor and grassroots groups around the city.

Questions about the issue make her testy. "You’re like a dog with a bone,” she told a Daily News reporter who asked her about the legislation last week.

Quinn relented Monday and agreed to a hearing. The move came after the bill supporters, including the Bronx's Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma who authored it, watered down the legislation so that it wouldn't apply to developments receiving less than $1 million in subsidies or to businesses with less than $5 million in revenue.

And last week, every state lawmaker in the Bronx, except for State Senator Jeff Klein who formed an Independent Caucus in the Senate with a few conservative Democrats, wrote to Quinn in support of the legislation, which grew out of the battle over a city plan to to subsidize the Related Companies mall project at the Kingsbridge Armory.

"Given the millions of dollars in profits developers take home to make these projects work, and the heavy subsidies that supplement that profit, we do not think it is too much to ask that the jobs created offer a 'living wage,'" the pols wrote. "In fact, it is the very least we can do, especially when these developers are taking so heavily from the taxpayers' wallet."

Yes, Quinn could table the bill after the hearing like she did with sick leave legislation last year, but this time there's the minor issue of a worldwide protest movement with a focus on income inequality taking root a stone's throw from Quinn's City Hall office. And if those protesters planting their flag in Zuccotti Park have shown one thing, it's that they don't mind taking a walk now and again.


  1. It's about time Ms. Quinn allows this to go forward. She will never be the Mayor of New York City

  2. She is not going to agree to allow it to come up for a vote. Secondly, the mayor is going to veto it and so it needs a super majority.

  3. It sounds like the bill is written to specifically target certain companies. All but two or so companies would never have to worry about this law. It's all optics. No living wage jobs will be created if this legislation passes. They need to strengthen the law to stipulate that if you get one cent of government money, you must provide living wage jobs across the board.


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