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Living Wage bill proponents weigh in ahead of tomorrow's hearing

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 09:59 AM

Note: I originally stated the hearing was being held today--it's being held tomorrow at 1 pm. My apologies.

As WNYC's Yasmeen Khan reports, the City Council today is holding a hearing on the revised living wage bill which would require certain city-connected work offer a starting wage of $10 an hour, with benefits.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and leaders in the business community have been vocal opponents of the bill, saying it will make business in the city prohibitively expensive. But proponents of the measure are making their voices heard ahead of today's hearings. Last Friday, one of the city's largest union, SEIU 1199, came out in support of the revised measure.

"There’s no denying that low-income people and the unemployed in New York City are hurting, and this legislation strikes the right balance between incentivizing growth and development in the hardest-hit communities and ensuring that the jobs created lift up people in those communities,” said George Gresham, the union's president, said in a statement.

But it's not just labor backing the bill. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the executive director of Catholic Charities, has been announced as a speaker at a rally in support of the bill tonight at Riverside Church in Manhattan.

The New York Times over the weekend spoke with Sullivan:

"We’re going to speak about how this economic crisis continues to hurt everybody in society, particularly the poor,” the monsignor said. “We need to make sure there are decent jobs with decent wages.”

The single biggest question surrounding the legislation is whether or not Council Speaker Christine Quinn will allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote where it would almost certainly pass.

The situation puts Quinn in a bind. Support the measure and risk losing the backing of the business community ahead of the 2013 mayoral contest. Deny labor the vote it wants on the legislation, and their support for her candidacy in the all-important Democratic primary would be in serious doubt. This could ultimately turn out to be the single most important action of Quinn's 2013 campaign.

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