Friday, March 26, 2010

Living Wage Lives!

The push for the creation of a city wide living wage law is beginning to gear up-and the Observer has the story: "Facing an increasing pressure from unions and elected officials on issues relating to living wage, the Bloomberg administration is planning to commission its own report and task force on wage policy issues. In recent days, the city's Economic Development Corporation has begun reaching out to various organizations that would sit on the task force, including Good Jobs New York, the building service workers' union SEIU 32BJ, the Center for an Urban Future and the Partnership for New York City."

What's missing from this picture? Why, the RWDSU of course-the main player in the Kingsbridge Armory defeat, and the chief proponent of the concept of a living wage for workers at city subsidized projects. But their exclusion is, as the Marxists say, no accident-and the union's absence speaks volumes about the credibility, or lack thereof, of the entire Bloomberg charade.

We say charade not only because it is a Bloomberg production, but because of the inclusion of folks who are-let's put this delicately-not real big fans of either living wage or retail unions: "I think we have to start dealing with these issues outside of a project-by-project basis," said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City. "As a city we really have to think through these issues and make decisions based on factual evidence."

Real Jack Webb of Wylde, "just the facts!" But with these gamers of the facts can we really expect any productive result? And just why do we need another study when the issue has been examined to a fare-thee-well? Seems like classic rope-a-dope to us.

But it is nice to see the fruits of one's labor get recognized-because none of this would have been possible without the Appelbaum-led fight over the Armory. Still Stuart doesn't deserve the Moses treatment-even though it is the right time of year for that-and he merits inclusion as all of the chosen people make their way to the promised land.

We did like the Observer's characterization of the Kingsbridge battle, though: "The effort seems to be a response to the unions and other groups, which have been pressing for higher mandated wages throughout the city, although particularly on developments that involve city subsidies or land-use approvals. Most recently, the Bloomberg administration suffered a humiliating defeat when its plans for a mall at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx were defeated after a group of local elected officials demanded that all retail tenants pay at least $10 an hour ($11.50 without benefits), a new precedent in the city. The Bloomberg administration and the private developer building the mall refused, leading to the project's defeat at the hands of the City Council."

There is, however, no good reason for the city council to wait on the mayor before addressing this key issue. With Bloomberg, the response to a needed reform appears to be, "Let them eat commissions!"