United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew sent a letter to all 51 members of the City Council asking them to support the “Fair Wages For New Yorkers Act,” better known as the “Living Wage Bill.” “Millions of New Yorkers are struggling just to make ends meet, and our members–their teachers and other educators–are seeing the effects of that harsh reality in our classrooms everyday. Children who are not being fed, clothed or housed properly cannot hope to concentrate,” Mr. Mulgrew wrote. “The passage of the ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act’ would be a step towards improving the lives of millions of New Yorkers, and consequently, their children,” wrote Mr. Mulgrew.
Mr. Mulgrew described the bill as especially necessary due to the wide gap between the rich and poor in New York City.
“New York City has earned the dubious distinction of being America’s income disparity capital; Nowhere else in this country do we see such extremes separating the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots,'” wrote Mr. Mulgrew. “This ‘living wage’ legislation is one crucial component to reducing the number of poor NewYorkers.”
The UFT has endorsed the living wage bill, which would require employees to receive minimum wages of $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 per hour without benefits on city-subsidized project. Currently, the minimum wage in New York is is $7.25 an hour.
A majority of City Council members also support the bill, but Mayor Bloomberg is opposed and Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not come out for or against the measure. Speaker Quinn’s support is crucial as she can prevent the bill from being passed by not bringing it to a vote.