Tag Archives: Adam Wisnieski

‘Best’ Living Wage Law Is in San Jose

30 Apr

The long debated and delayed living wage legislation, emanating from an epic land use battle at the Kingsbridge Armory, is coming to a vote today.

A press release drafted by the retail workers union and the Living Wage NYC Coalition, which we received from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office yesterday, states: “Culminating an historic two-year campaign that created a citywide living wage movement that sets the standards for nationwide policies, the final Living Wage Bill will be voted on by the New York City Council at the stated meeting this coming Monday.”

The ” sets-the-standards” language is consistent with Diaz and his staff repeatedly reffering to the legislation as the “best” in the country.

The Council legislation here initially affected retailers in developments receiving taxpayer subsidies. But it was eventually gutted to only include employees of the developer and then further whittled down by Council Speaker Christine Quinn exempting workers at a massive development on the west side of Manhattan. Estimates now indicate that about 400 workers will benefit from the NYC legislation and only if the Council can override the mayor’s vowed veto.

As far as we know, only Riverdale Press reporter Adam Wisnieski  has bothered to check out the claim that this bill is the “best” in the land. He found that through a 1998 law in San Jose, more workers receive higher pay  in a city about an eighth the size of NYC.

Approximately 600 workers were affected in San Jose, a city with less than 1 million people when a living wage law was passed in 1998, according to a study on living wage by the University of Washington. The subsidy threshold is lower than what will be required to trigger the law New York. The definition of “living wage” also changes with the cost of living.

Right now, any developer receiving $100,000 or more in taxpayer subsides in San Jose is required to pay $13.59 per hour with health benefits or $14.84 per hour without benefits, according to the city’s website.

Compare that to New York’s $1 million subsidy threshold and requirement to pay $10 per hour with benefits and $11.50 without, and San Jose has a stronger living wage bill than New York.

And, arguably, a measure in Los Angeles bests the bill here as well, Wisnieski reports.