Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ruben Diaz Jr. leads charge for Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act

Bronx borough president on side of worker

Wednesday, November 23 2011, 2:58 AM

  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. gave the State of the Borough Address at DeWitt Clinton High School. Diaz underlined many issues, including the need for a hotel, the problem of crime, as well as having Bronx Pride.
Victor Chu for New York Daily News

Ruben Diaz Jr. is squaring off with Mayor Bloomberg on wage bill.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. waited for this moment for more than two years.

The moment the Other New York served notice to the developers and landlords and their friends in government that our city's economic policies must change.

Almost every day, a new report reminds us that the gap between rich and poor is worse than ever.

For two months now, the kids of Occupy Wall Street have galvanized national attention on that gap.

So here was Diaz leading the charge Tuesday, as two camps lined up in one of those classic battles over a City Council bill that suddenly becomes a symbol of something far bigger.

The last fight like this was October 2008, when Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Chris Quinn maneuvered to thumb their noses at the will of the voters and overturn term limits.

This time, the legislation is called the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.

It boils down to this: any company seeking more than $1 million in tax exemptions or other forms of public assistance for a development project must agree to pay workers on that project at least $10 an hour. That's $2.75 more than the state's $7.25 minium wage.

The bill has the backing of a majority of the City Council. A recent poll shows 78% of the public supports it. Yet Quinn, who dreams of succeeding Bloomberg as mayor, refuses to call it up for a vote.

Bloomberg, to no one's surprise, strongly opposes the bill. His aides claim it will send developers fleeing and kill thousands of jobs.

Ten bucks an hour, we should note, is still a poverty wage for a family of four. Other big cities, like San Francisco, have required as much as $12 an hour for a decade, and they haven't collapsed. In Los Angeles, it's $10.42.

Back in 2002, Bloomberg backed a $10-an-hour minimum for contractors who provide home care aides and Head Start workers to the city.

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