Friday, December 11, 2009

Kingsbridge Living Wage Will Live On

As the NY Daily News reports today, the fight over living wage at the Kingsbridge Armory will live on-no matter how the project's controversy over the issue is resolved in the coming hours: "Even if a deal is struck today on developing the Kingsbridge Armory into a $324-million shopping mall, the "living wage" dispute that threatened to derail it will continue to roil City Hall. Under a bill introduced Wednesday in the City Council by Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx) and Annabel Palma (D-Bronx), developers and others who benefit from city subsidies for their property deals will have to pay a living wage for the ensuing jobs that are created."

All of which underscores the extent to which the RWDSU/KARA-led fight for workers' rights has succeeded, no matter how the the Armory battle is resolved: "The bill would accomplish by law what community activists and members of the Bronx Council delegation have been trying to impose - for the first time ever in the city - on the Related Companies, the city-chosen developer of the long-vacant Bronx armory. Backers of the new bill say its passage would avoid future fights like the Kingsbridge Armory battle by making a living wage a citywide mandate rather than targeting one developer as a test case."

As for the Armory itself, the resolution is still far from clear-with the administration balking as of late yesterday over mandating any living wage. The counter offer being entertained is a hard to manage worker fund that would supplement wages but wouldn't require employers to pay salaries at the living wage level. Regardless of how the issue is resolved, the coalition has gone a long way toward raising the consciousness of the city council members and the rest of New York on this crucial issue of economic justice.

If an agreement is hammered out-and the supermarket exclusion is front and center for the Bronx delegation, along with a labor peace agreement that will insure union access to the project-the council will have to be called back into a special session, either today or Monday, to vote: "A possible resolution to the impasse was still being hammered out as of Thursday night between the Bronx delegation and mayoral officials, with consultations with the developer. Council members are on call for a possible special session today to vote on zoning and other land-use actions required for the project. The deadline for such approvals is Monday."