Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
Hundreds of supporters of the controversial living wage legislation rallied at City Hall prior to the first official hearing where council members challenged the Bloomberg Administration's assertion that the legislation would kill jobs.
The bill would require employers at projects receiving more than $100,000 in city subsidies to pay workers at least $10 an hour with health benefits or $11.50 without them. Small businesses with annual gross revenues of less than a $1 million would be exempt and so would non-profits and certain affordable housing projects.
Councilman Robert Jackson said that even at $10 an hour, workers would be earning less than $21,000 annually.
"You live off that for a year and come back and tell me we don't need a living wage bill," he told officials from the city's Economic Development Corporation.
Tokumbo Shobowale, chief of staff to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, repeatedly said the Bloomberg Administration understood the plight of low-wage workers but saw education and training as the route to moving out of poverty.
"The data has shown that there is increases in income when these laws have passed in other part of the country but at the cost of job loss by other low income workers," he said.
The legislation currently has the support of 29 council members, five short of what's needed to override a mayoral veto.