City Council Speaker and presumptive mayoral candidate Christine Quinn announced a compromise on the controversial living wage bill yesterday. While it would require companies who receive substantial tax benefits from the city to raise employee wages to $10/hour with benefits or $11.50/hour without, according to Crain's the law would only apply to direct employees of the companies who receive benefits, not their tenants, thus significantly narrowing the initial scope of the legislation.
“The requirement that tenants in subsidized projects pay more when the city has no financial connection with them…would have cost us future retail jobs,” Quinn told Crain's, echoing the sentiment of her mentor Michael Bloomberg and much of the business community. “Placing this requirement on businesses that don't receive a direct benefit is simply unfair.”
Quinn added that the new bill would affect around 80% of the approximately 700 workers originally covered under the old legislation, and would not include FreshDirect, because it is currently negotiating incentives with the city and state to keep the company from moving their workforce of 2,300 to New Jersey. A different bill that would affect service workers on subsidized projects is slated to be unveiled soon. Public Advocate Bill De Blasio's suggestion that only businesses with an annual revenue of $5 million or more be affected will be a part of the bill, that will be introduced to the city council next month.
Despite the watered down iteration of the law, the leader of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, Stuart Applebaum, told NY1, "I think this is a good bill." Applebaum told Crain's that it was a "landmark victory that will have national implications and lead to further victories.”
The New York Times' Gotham columnist Michael Powell tweeted a different take: "Great Victory? Meh. Living Wage compromise applyies to, perhaps 500 people? So war ends w the sound of pop gun…Living wage compromise in nyc, w just 500 jobs, begs ? That effort better put into minimum wage battles?"