The City Council voted in favor of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, referred to as the living wage bill, on Monday — a move that many Queens business leaders oppose, citing potential for lost jobs and fewer economic-development projects.
The bill requires employers who receive $1 million in public subsidies or low-cost financing from the city Economic Development Corp. to pay workers at least $10 an hour when benefits are offered, or $11.50 to compensate when they are not.
Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to veto the measure, and, if the council overrides him, to go to court to block it.
After negotiations between council members, union officials and real estate developers, the council approved the bill 45-5.
During a rally held Monday outside City Hall, the bill’s approval drew praise from supporters such as labor leaders, community leaders, some business owners and elected officials — before the mood changed.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) stormed off, becoming irate when bill supporter Carlos Pacheco, 62, a retiree, shouted,“Pharoah Bloomberg.”
Quinn refused to be involved in name-calling, stating that by living in a democracy, people are entitled to have different opinions. She swiftly thanked those in attendance for their support, cutting off her own press conference to go back inside the hall.
Pacheco was referencing the mayor’s vow to veto the bill, which he announced last week. The mayor believes private employers should decide wages, not the government, according to the needs of the labor market.
Members of the City Council already have more than the two-thirds of votes needed to override the mayor’s vow to veto.
However, Bloomberg plans on taking it one step further: he’ll sue.
Under Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, an agency decision can be appealed to the courts. Generally, such a suit must be filed within four months from when the decision has been made.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who voted against the bill, along with the council’s four-member Republican delegation, agrees with the mayor’s stance.
“Companies will either not take the benefit and not come to New York, which will cost jobs, or ask for a bigger benefit to pay the higher wages, which will cost taxpayers,” Vallone said in a prepared statement.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who’s a candidate for Congress in the 6th District, agrees. He issued a statement through his spokesman, Steven Stites, that linked the measure to the philosophy of Democrats in Washington, DC.
“Ask the American people what President Obama and the Democrats know about creating jobs and they will tell you: next to nothing,” Halloran said.
The law, which would only affect future development projects provided with aid from the city, would exempt employees working in small businesses, manufacturing, nonprofits and affordable housing.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), in contrast, blasted Halloran, in his own statement on the bill. Lancman is one of several Democrats vying for the party’s nomination to run against Halloran for the congressional seat.
“The living-wage bill also stops the race to the bottom, where companies compete with each other to pay their workers less and less in wages and benefits,” Lancman said.
City Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) is disappointed with the mayor’s intended course of action for the bill.
“It’s unfortunate. I believe people should be paid fair wages, not poverty wages,” Dromm said, adding that he favors the measure as a member of the council’s Progressive Caucus.
“He’s out of touch with the common person,” he said of the mayor.