Last week, Community Board 1, serving Lower Manhattan, joined four other local community boards in supporting the Living Wage Bill, or Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act. CB1 passed a formal resolution for the bill during their full board meeting last Wednesday, Dec. 21. As explained in the resolution, the bill would require employees in city-subsidized projects to be paid at least $10 per hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without benefits, instead of the current $7.25 per hour. As members of the board pointed out, previous issues with the bill, such as the criticism that it would hurt small businesses, have been worked out. The act would exempt not-for-profits and manufacturing businesses and would “apply only to companies with at least $5 million in annual revenue located in developments that had received at least $1 million in city subsidies.”
“This is a very important matter,” said CB1 Chair Julie Menin, adding that the bill would lessen income inequality.
In their resolution, the board also pointed out that 15 cities have similar laws, including Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. According to a recent study on job growth in these cities from the Center for American Process, the higher wages translated to “efficiency gains for firms through reduced turnover. Increasing wages for the lowest-paid workers also stimulates local economies, as low income households typically spend more of their dollars locally.”