A State Supreme Court judge has struck down the City Council's prevailing wage law, handing the stridently pro-business Bloomberg administration a victory. The legislation would have mandated that security guards, janitors, and other service workers receive $10/hour with benefits or $11.50/hour without; the state's minimum wage is $7.25.
Judge Geoffrey Wright ruled that the prevailing wage law was preempted by the state minimum wage law, but also chastised the Bloomberg administration in his opinion.
It is with great compunction that this Court renders this decision as this Court recognizes the benefit that such a law would provide. Additionally, this court believes that the prevailing wage law could benefit the people of New York and does not see wisdom in the mayor’s zeal for the possibility of welcoming to New York City a business that would pay its building service employees less than the prevailing wage,”
Judge Wright even suggested ways that new prevailing wage legislation could be tailored so that it would withstand legal challenges, such as if it were drafted to "forestall labor unrest" or be "designed to save the public money by causing contracts to be performed at smaller cost or without disruption."
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bloomberg said, “This ill-conceived legislation threatened some of the most important job-creating projects in the city. Legislation like this makes it harder for companies to invest in New York City, at a time when we need to be making it easier.”
The prevailing wage law was vetoed by Bloomberg before being overridden and passed by the City Council. The (watered-down) living wage law would require employers receiving subsidies from the City to provide wages of $10/hour with benefits or $11.50/hour without. The mayor's federal lawsuit in that case was recently struck down, and a state challenge is pending.
Here's what Bloomberg said about the prevailing and living wage bills last year:
Those bills—the so-called living and prevailing wage bills—are a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked, rather than a garden to be cultivated.
A City Council spokesman told the Times that they will appeal. You can read Judge Wright's full decision below.