The new bill will not require companies in buildings in which the developer has received subsidies from the city to pay a living wage; instead, only those employees of the developers in those buildings will receive the living wage.
“I believe it is fair and appropriate for government to place requirements on a business that has voluntarily entered into an economic development agreement with the city,” Ms. Quinn said. “At the end of the day, they have a choice as to whether or not they want both the money offered to them and the wage requirements. This is a policy that is fair, one that will help workers, will not deter job growth and is one that I am honored to support.”
The City Council will also earmark a pot of money for the Economic Development Corporation so that they can negotiate living wage requirements with developers who receive city subsidies and want to build in the city. Negotiating the wage requirements for each project, Ms. Quinn said, is better than a cookie-cutter approach to legislation.
“Our city’s Economic Development Corporation must have a policy goal of negotiating development packages that result in not just the recipients of subsidies creating higher wage jobs, but also their tenants. That is what we negotiated with the Domino Sugar Factory project,” Ms. Quinn said. “The power of a negotiating process is that it provides the ability to craft each deal differently.”
In negotiating the deal, Ms. Quinn took a page out of Andrew Cuomo’s playbook, giving each side half a loaf and setting aside incentives so that later on they could get a little more. Today’s bill, for example was hailed by both living wage advocates like Stuart Appelbaum, head of the Retail Workers Department Store Union, and Kathy Wylde, head of the business coalition Partnership for New York City.
“It is difficult, and it is hard, and it is time consuming, with all of the different issues that she has to deal with to be able to listen to folks and to be able to get to this point,” said Ruben Diaz, Jr. the Bronx Borough President and one of the leading advocates for a minimum wage. “For that, Madame Speaker I want to say I thank you and respect you. On this issue you’ve done a great job allowing all of the voices to be heard.”
The new bill is expected to cover around 75-80 percent of the number of people who would be covered by the original living wage bill, not including those that wage mandates that will be negotiated between EDC and developers over individual projects.
Ms. Quinn is considering running for mayor in 2013, and it was important to her political prospects to get this issue off of the table, since it would energize labor and progressive groups in opposition to her.
The bill now will go before Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has signaled his objection to any kind of living wage mandate. Advocates though noted that by the time EDC negotiates contracts with developers over wage mandates, it is likely that new mayor–and a new EDC chief–will be running the negotiations.
Follow David Freedlander via RSS.