New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order requiring employers to pay workers as much as $13.13 an hour on economic-development projects that receive more than $1 million in city subsidies.
De Blasio’s move modifies the city’s 2012 living wage law, a city council measure opposed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It expands coverage to 18,000 employees, or about 70 percent of all the jobs at businesses that receive city economic-development financing. For employees who don’t receive benefits, pay will rise by 9.5 percent to $13.13 an hour.
The current measure, which excludes many retailers, applies to about 1,200 workers.
“To ask national retail chains to pay a decent wage to their workers while they’re receiving a subsidy from us is imminently fair,” de Blasio said today at a signing event in the Bronx, where he was joined by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.
The order also eliminates an exemption for Hudson Yards, the $20 billion real estate development on Manhattan’s far west side. Joanna Rose, a spokeswoman for Related Cos., the main developer, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.
De Blasio, 53, became the first Democrat elected to run New York in 20 years with a campaign that described a metropolis divided between rich and poor. Since taking office, he’s pressed an agenda to construct or preserve 200,000 affordable-housing units, provide rent subsidies and universal, all-day pre- kindergarten. In raising the living wage, he’s answering a call from President Barack Obama on local governments to increase pay amid federal gridlock.
For workers making the state’s minimum wage of $8 per hour, the executive order would increase their gross income to $27,310 from $16,640 per year, according to a release from the mayor’s office. Certain city-backed housing developments with high levels of affordability and small businesses with gross income under $3 million are exempt from the order. Manufacturers are also excluded.
If de Blasio succeeds in matching the minimum wage to the living wage, city projections show all hourly workers may earn $15.22 by 2019, according to the press release. The law passed after Bloomberg’s veto was overridden by the city council. Bloomberg challenged the law in court, and de Blasio dropped the suit after taking office. The former mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company Bloomberg LP.
De Blasio’s executive order may help set the tone in Albany, where Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running for re- election, has agreed to allow localities to raise the minimum wage on their own. He made the commitment in May in return for the support of the union-backed Working Families Party.
Democratic lawmakers are coalescing around an Assembly bill that would raise the statewide minimum to $10.10 an hour, above the $9 that will take effect by 2016. It also would allow any municipality to raise its minimum by as much as 30 percent above the state floor. Cuomo and de Blasio have said they support the measure, which would allow New York City and other localities to immediately set wages at $13.13.
The success of the bill depends on Democrats retaking control of the senate, which over the last two years has been run by a coalition of Republicans and a breakaway group of Democrats. As part of the same deal with the Working Families Party, Cuomo agreed to support the Democratic takeover after working closely with Republicans through his first term. The de Blasio administration is working as part of the effort as well.
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