A Hudson Yards office tower developer who's receiving multi-million dollar subsidies from the city has agreed to pay everyone who works there at least $13.30 per hour. The One Manhattan West project, from Brookfield Property Partners, is the first to fall under an executive order signed by Mayor de Blasio last year—all construction, office and retail jobs in the building will be covered.
The deal means Brookfield may only lease to tenants who are willing to pay their employees a living wage, even if they're part of a nationwide or international chain. "We are fighting inequality by raising the floor for workers at every opportunity," de Blasio said today. "This is going to be an economic engine that lifts up New Yorkers at every rung of the economic ladder—something many didn't believe was possible just a year or two ago."
Brookfield Property Partners CEO Ric Clark said the company was pleased to support the initiative—they're reportedly receiving a tax break of $115 million for the new tower.
The multibillion dollar, 2.1 million-square-foot behemoth is set to rise at 401 Ninth Avenue, with a completion date of 2020. By this point, due to wage adjustments based on inflation, employees should be bringing in over $15 an hour, according to City Hall.
"There was no shortage of voices who said a deal like this could never happen," Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, said in a statement. "Because of it, every person who works at this building—whether they work in a board room or a parking garage—will earn enough to support a family."
Stuart Applebaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said today's announcement was an important step for workers in his industry. "Economic development is only truly effective when the jobs created enable people to earn enough to survive in this city," Applebaum said. "Otherwise, we are only creating poverty wage jobs which accomplish little for this city."
Glen told the New York Times that de Blasio would "like the minimum wage to match the living wage"—as it stands, the minimum wage in New York State is trailing behind by $4.55 an hour. Protests to increase the minimum wage across a myriad of industries are ongoing, with workers pushing for $15 an hour.
Last year de Blasio signed an executive order expanding a Bloomberg-era living wage bill passed in 2012, which had a much narrower scope— it didn't stretch to cover building tenants and exempted the Hudson Yards project entirely. Mayor Bloomberg was outspoken in his opposition to the bill—labeling it "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"—but the City Council overruled his veto.
De Blasio's executive order is estimated to eventually impact 70% of businesses that accept funding from the Economic Development Corporation, with exemptions in place for businesses pulling in under $3 million in gross income, manufacturers, or employees on development projects that would result in more than 75% total affordable units.