The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and a coalition of advocates for a city-mandated Living Wage law are placing the blame for a spike in the city’s poverty rate purely on the shoulders of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The new poverty data on New York City released today by the Census bureau is deeply unsettling but it should not come as a surprise. The Bloomberg administration’s economic policy has prioritized the interests of corporations and developers, and neglected the needs of most New Yorkers. Poverty has increased in so many communities and households because this administration is not investing in living wage jobs. It has given corporations and developers billions of taxpayer dollars and allowed them to create poverty-wage jobs with impunity. That needs to stop. This aristocratic agenda of protecting the rich and ignoring the most vulnerable has clearly failed countless New Yorkers across the city.
A living wage before the City Council would require all businesses in city-subsidized projects to pay $10/hour with benefits. Business groups and Mayor Bloomberg have said that the measure will kill jobs and slow the economic recovery. All of the top contenders for the mayoralty in 2013 have endorsed the living wage law, except for Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is keeping the bill on hold despite the support of a majority of council members.
Today in the statement advocates for the measure said that the city has a moral obligation to pass the bill.
The same failed policy cannot continue. Morally and economically, the statistics released today are unacceptable. It’s time to focus on real solutions that will address this poverty epidemic. Now is the time to pass the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, City Council legislation that would create more living wage jobs, reduce inequality, and rebuild the middle class. The Living Wage NYC Coalition calls on the administration to support this legislation and help the City Council move it forward quickly.
With nearly 2 million New Yorkers living in poverty, city government has an obligation to do everything it can to create living wage jobs and ensure that taxpayer money is no longer wasted on the wealthy.