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Mayor Vetoes Prevailing Wage Bill

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 03:13 PM

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Yasmeen Khan/WNYC)

As expected, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the "prevailing wage" bill passed overwhelmingly by the City Council last month. He said it will hurt the city's economy by forcing some employers, and not others, to pay certain workers higher wages.

"We cannot take our economy for granted," said the mayor. "And I will not sign legislation, no matter how well intended, that hurts job creation and tax payers."

The bill would require that non-union building workers, such as experienced cleaners and porters, at some developments that benefit from city funds earn a "prevailing wage" similar to those workers in union positions. It would apply to buildings that receive more than $1 million in city funds and to large buildings where the city rents the majority of the space.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has said that the bill would apply to a relatively small number of workers, since the majority of experienced workers in office buildings already earn competitive wages of more than $20 per hour. But workers who would be affected by the legislation would see a raise of 35 to 45 percent, City Council members said.

Quinn said the City Council would move quickly to override the mayor's veto.

Mayor Bloomberg, who supports an overall increase in the state's minimum wage, is also gearing up to veto the so-called living wage bill that is expected to pass the City Council next week. The legislation would require that certain companies receiving at least $1 million in city subsidies pay their workers $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without benefits.

But Speaker Quinn vows a fight on that front as well. "The Council stands by this legislation, and my colleagues and I look forward to overriding the Mayor's veto," she said.

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