Talk show host Geraldo Rivera and liberal Councilman Jumaane Williams found at least one area of common ground today: the minimum wage.
During an interview this morning, the two discussed their shared belief that the minimum wage should be raised. But Mr. Rivera took it a step further, comparing current wage levels to 19th century slavery.
“I definitely stand shoulder to shoulder with the Council Member Jumaane Williams when it comes to raising the minimum wage. I think $7.25 is really a slave wage and I don’t appreciate it,” Mr. Rivera said. “And to those businesses that say they would not be able to function if they pay a living wage, then those businesses should go out of business.”
Mr. Rivera then took it up a notch. “In the old days, a lot of cotton plantations closed when they abolished slavery, you know, when they started paying a wage to the sharecroppers. You know, it’s too bad, the buffalo hunters they went away. Sometimes businesses, if they are not capable of paying a minimum wage, they should not be in business period. $7.25 is shameful,” he continued.
The remarks came after Mr, RIvera slammed Mr. Williams for backing legislation that would bar employers from asking about prospective employees’ criminal histories until after they’ve been offered the job,
The minimum wage talk was timely. Labor groups and pols are fanning out across the city today to call for a minimum wage increase as part of the traditional May Day protests. President Barack Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio have both called for minimum wage increases, but the political will to make a hike a reality has yet to materialize.
In the interview, Mr. Williams was mostly quiet as Mr. Rivera railed against wage levels, trying unsuccessfully to move the conversation back to his proposed legislation.
“It’s absolutely the most unfair thing in the world … you and I should get to together on something like that, let’s get that minimum wage to $10.10 an hour,” Mr. Rivera said.
“We definitely agree there,” Mr. Williams replied.