This afternoon Mayor de Blasio will sign an executive order raising the rate of the city's living wage law from $11.90/hour to $13.13, and expanding it to affect 4,000 New Yorkers over the next five years and 18,000 over the next decade.
According to the Times, the city estimates that the order will impact 70% of all businesses that take money from the Economic Development Corporation.
The watered-down living wage bill passed in 2012 only applied to a certain class of workers directly employed by those property owners taking city subsidies, not the property owners' tenants, and exempted the Hudson Yards project, "the largest real estate project in U.S. history," entirely. As a result, only around 1,200 workers were covered.
The new order eliminates the Hudson Yards exemption and applies to tenants of businesses who receive city subsidies, but creates exemptions for businesses with less than $3 million in gross income, manufacturers, or workers on housing projects that create more than 75% affordable units.
Workers who receive benefits will make $11.50/hour, instead of $10.30. The 4,000 workers who will be covered over the next five years are said to be retail and fast food workers who still earn a wage close to the New York State minimum of $8/hour and frequently protest this reality. These employees are projected to make an extra $10,000 annually due to the new order.
The mayor told the Times that he hopes the change will add momentum for the push to pass a state law allowing New York City to set its own minimum wage, which is currently lower than Seattle's ($15), San Francisco's ($15), Burlington's ($10.50) and Greenwich's ($10.10).
“We cannot continue to allow rampant and growing income inequality,” the mayor told the paper. “Every tool counts. If we reach 18,000 families with this tool and get them to a decent standard of living, that’s a game-changer for those families.”
"Fifteen dollars doesn't seem so impossible," Shantel Walker, a member of Fast Food Forward who works at Papa Johns making $8.50/hour, said in a statement. "While he works with Gov. Cuomo to raise wages for all New Yorkers, Mayor de Blasio's move today to put workers at city-subsidized projects on a path to $15 is a sign that we are winning. It's a step in the right direction and helps push us forward in our Fight for $15 for workers across the entire country."