Showing posts tagged New York City

    After Historic Campaign and Movement, Landmark Living Wage Legislation Passes

    Diverse Supporters Praise Legislation as Much-Needed Reform that Will Strengthen the Local Economy and Put an End to the City’s Costly Failure to Create Good Jobs

    New York, NY—Today the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, legislation that grew out of an historic citywide campaign for living wage jobs and economic justice, passed the New York City Council by a wide margin of 44-5, drawing praise from elected officials, labor leaders, faith leaders, and business owners.

    The campaign spawned a highly visible and vocal movement that engaged thousands of New Yorkers and led to overwhelming support for the legislation across the political spectrum—74% of voters overall, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, with 60 % percent of Republicans saying it is government’s responsibility to ensure workers are paid a decent wage.

    Under the terms of the legislation, any private development project directly accepting $1 million or more in taxpayer subsidies must pay employees a living wage of $10/hour with supplemental health benefits or $11.50/hour without benefits. The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, co-sponsored by Council members Oliver Koppel and Annabel Palma, reforms the city’s taxpayer-funded economic development programs, which have failed to create good jobs for New Yorkers over the past decade because, until now, they lacked enforceable wage standards of any kind.

    After billions of public dollars spent on poverty-wage jobs, this legislation will put an end to that costly failure and fundamentally transform the city’s approach to job creation and economic development. At a time of rising poverty and strained public resources, the living wage legislation is an act of fiscal responsibility and fundamental fairness: it establishes strong wage standards for jobs created via subsidized economic development projects, giving low-wage New Yorkers and taxpayers alike a boost. It will cover projects overseen by the largest urban economic development agency in the United States, New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and will have a far-reaching impact on thousands of future jobs in the city.

    “We are proud to have played a lead role in building the living wage movement and shaping this legislation. The city needs to create higher-wage jobs, not poverty-wage jobs. Passage of this legislation is a major triumph for working people, for democracy, and for our city. It is a significant step toward reducing inequality and poverty in our city,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW).

    “For too long, major development projects have taken heavily from the taxpayer’s wallets while providing only poverty-wage jobs. The ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers’ Act will guarantee that, when major developers take city dollars they will do right by their employees and taxpayers. “This legislation will fundamentally improve the way business is conducted here,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

    “The reign of the rich is over! A new day has dawned in New York City. Together — faith leaders, labor leaders, community leaders and elected officials — are changing the culture of New York. We have only just begun to see the fruit of our growing faith-rooted movement for economic justice. Communities of faith will continue to organize for the dignity and respect of working people,” said Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Ph.D., Director of the Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary.

    “This has been a long and arduous struggle and we still have much work to do. There are still forces in this city, led by our pro-poverty billionaire mayor, who believe that the pervasive income inequality that exists in this city should be the norm. But in this journey many have now discovered that organized people can always overcome organized money,” said Reverend Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor, First Corinthian Baptist Church of Harlem.

    “By helping to empower New York’s employees this city can move more quickly towards more productivity and better conditions for all New Yorkers. Empowerment starts with a living wage - enough pay to support yourself and family through your work,” said Dal LaMagna, President and CEO of IceStone, a company based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    “I am pleased with the passage of the living wage bill. This legislation will benefit the city by reducing dependency on government programs increasing consumer spending and adding to our tax revenue,” said City Council Member G. Oliver Koppell, lead sponsor of the bill.

    “It’s been a long journey to get here, but with the help of all of our partners, I believe we have succeeded in producing landmark legislation that will immediately help to improve the lives of hundreds of working New Yorkers,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, co-sponsor of the bill with Council Member Oliver Koppell.

    About the Living Wage NYC Coalition
    Living Wage NYC, built and led by RWDSU, is a large, diverse and growing coalition representing many thousands of New Yorkers, including members of the faith community, anti-hunger groups, anti-poverty organizations, LGBTQ organizations, immigrant organizations, grassroots groups, and labor unions. We are calling on the city to ensure that developers and companies receiving taxpayer subsidies create living wage jobs that strengthen communities, neighborhoods, and households. For more information, visit and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


    • 2 years ago

    RWDSU Statement on Living Wage Vote/Campaign Finale

    RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum made the following remarks today at a noon press conference at City Hall before the New York City Council’s afternoon vote on living wage legislation:

    Good afternoon. I’m Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). I want to thank everyone for being here for this historic occasion, especially the members of the Living Wage NYC Coalition and the many elected officials who are with us today and helped get us to this point. We could not have done it without Speaker Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and so many City Council members, especially Oliver Koppell, Annabel Palma, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Brad Lander, Jumaane Williams, and Tish James.

    Over the past two years, thousands of New Yorkers have come together to support the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, living wage legislation that the City Council will pass this afternoon.

    We built a citywide movement for living wage jobs, and this landmark legislation is the result of that movement.

    Civil rights organizations, churches, LGBTQ groups, immigrant groups, labor unions, businesses and so many others all played important roles and share in this victory. What started as a campaign became a visible and vocal movement—a movement focused on putting a stop to a policy that has been hazardous to our economic health: city government enabling a select group of companies and developers to get richer from taxpayer subsidies, while allowing greater income inequality and poverty to take hold as a result. It’s no coincidence that a record number of New Yorkers applied for food stamps during the same mayoral administration that allowed the top 1 percent to hoard 44 percent of all income in the city. After billions spent on so-called job creation and economic development, New Yorkers are not better off: More poverty-wage jobs have been created at the bottom as profits swell at the top. A dark legacy if ever there was one.

    It is economically and morally wrong to perpetuate this costly failure. We live in a city of many, not a plutocracy of few. The RWDSU, working with the Living Wage NYC campaign and the City Council, is proud to have championed legislation that will deliver real reform by investing taxpayer money more wisely in higher-wage jobs that lift us all up. Smart, democratic investment is the core of the Fair Wage for New Yorkers Act, it is the basis for a wage-led recovery for our economy and it rests on a principle of fairness that resonates across the political spectrum.

    A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 74 % of New York City voters across parties support the living wage bill, with even 60% of Republicans saying it is government’s responsibility to ensure that workers earn a decent wage. So the legislation that has moved through the Council reflects the consensus of ideologically diverse New Yorkers—what this city values and believes in.

    This is serious stuff: landmark living wage legislation that will raise wages for thousands of jobs in the coming years, because it will affect projects overseen by the largest urban economic development agency in the United States. Over time, as the living wage requirement is shown to be effective and beneficial in practice, it should bolster and strengthen other wage-focused campaigns. We need the vitality and strength of this living wage movement to live on and have a longer life, an afterlife far beyond today: we must channel the living wage movement into new and unprecedented efforts to reduce inequality and poverty, and to rebuild the city’s middle class after years of decline. We must fight those battles on all available fronts.

    We must fight to ensure that all working people are treated with dignity, justice and respect.

    Thank you.

    • 2 years ago

    New York Post: City pols in Wal Mex vex


    Reports that Walmart bribed Mexican officials gave new ammunition yesterday to local mayoral hopefuls opposed to the chain coming here.

    “The corporation’s tactics of bribery, scheming and corruption are the latest in a litany of despicable business practices,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

    Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called again for Walmart to be shut out after The New York Times yesterday reported that the company paid more than $24 million in bribes to get quick permits to build stores.

    De Blasio said the city “cannot open its doors to a company that sanctions bribery.”

    City Controller John Liu said “the report suggests a willful disregard for legal and ethical compliance at the highest levels of the corporation.”

    Stuart Appelbaum, the president of Retail, Wholesale and department Store Union, compared Wal-Mart’s lobbying in New York City to the widespread bribing in Mexico.

    “These so-called donations and contributions have been the core of Wal-Mart’s campaign to break into this coveted urban market…New Yorkers have a right to know what Wal-Mart has done and spent to buy its way into the city.”

    Appelbaum is calling on Wal-Mart to disclose all spending in its campaign to get into New York.

    • 2 years ago
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    NY Daily News: New Yorkers Favor Raising The Minimum Wage

    Raising the minimum wage has broad support among New Yorkers – including Republicans – according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

    Overall, 78% of New York voters favor a hike in the $7.25 hourly wage, while only 20% oppose it, the poll found.

    Even a majority of Republicans, 53%, agreed that the wage should be increased.

    Of those who supported an increase, 37% favored raising it to $8.50 an hour and 52% wanted it even higher.

    “New York is a liberal state on labor matters,” said Quinnipiac Polling Director Maurice Carroll.

    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) has made boosting the minimum wage a top priority of the Assembly Democratic conference. Silver wants to increase the wage to $8.50 an hour with automatic future raises tied to inflation. Read more.

    • 2 years ago

    NY Daily News: State probes whether New York car-wash kingpin John Lage cheated workers out of wages

    Exclusive: Workers claim bizman pays employees $5.50 per hour - $1.75 less than legal minimum

    Employees at the LMC Car Wash in Queens complain about lousy working conditions and say owner John Lage cheats them out proper wages.   Read more:

    The state is investigating whether New York City’s car-wash kingpin has financed a life of luxury by cheating workers out of wages, the Daily News has learned.

    Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last week slapped a subpoena on John Lage, who is linked to more than a dozen car washes and lives in a $900,000 lakefront house in Westchester.

    Workers claim that the car washes pay $5.50 an hour — $1.75 less than the legal minimum — plus a pittance in tips. They don’t make overtime and complain about harsh working conditions.

    Read more.

    • 2 years ago

    New York Daily News: Car washes have to clean up their act and stop treating workers like dirt


    Organizing and invoking their labor rights is the American way

    Car wash workers have right on their side in trying to clean up the industry.  Read more:

    Workers chronically stiffed of the minimum wage they are supposed to be guaranteed. Stolen tips. Overtime not counted or not properly paid.

    Regular exposure, without proper safeguards, to chemicals that can harm health long term. Injuries sustained by working with hazardous machinery — and often no recompense.

    In one industry, too often ignored, can be found the full range of the worst practices to which low-income and immigrant workers are subjected.

    More power to the car wash workers who, in a new push this week, have chosen to exercise their freedom under law to try to organize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

    By pooling together and pushing back against unfair and sometimes illegal wages and work conditions — which have been found repeatedly over the years by government watchdogs and nonprofit groups — they can build better lives for themselves and their families.

    No, it won’t be easy. The city’s 200 or so car washes are mostly stand-alone operations, making it tougher for organized labor to find a partner on the other side of the table.

    And surely not all car washes are mistreating their workers.

    But the grime is out there, all around, and must be brought to the surface.

    This is the United States, not China. Organizing is a right. And when there’s injustice to be fought, it is a virtue.

    • 2 years ago
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    Walmart the Great Destroyer

    Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW) made the following statement at a City Hall press conference today to announce the release of a new report by Food and Water Watch and Walmart Free NYC:

    Good morning. I’m Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW. I want to thank Food and Water Watch and the Walmart Free NYC Coalition for bringing us together today. We’re here to discuss an important new report showing that Walmart harms workers, suppliers, communities, and consumers.

    The key finding is that Walmart is a source of tremendous devastation and loss wherever it operates. Walmart is the great destroyer, not the great savior it claims to be. Walmart takes away our power and limits our freedom in alarming ways, leaving us all worse off. Walmart tells its low-wage workers they cannot unionize; Walmart tells its suppliers they cannot survive unless they comply with draconian cost-cutting; Walmart tells communities they must accept that other retailers and grocery stores will go out of business; and Walmart tells consumers they can only have access to certain products, goods, and services.

    Walmart is larger and more powerful than all its competitors combined, and wields more economic influence than many countries. Whatever Walmart does affects the entire retail industry and, indeed, the global economy. It has a long history of lowering standards for job quality and undermining responsible industry practices, forcing its competitors into a dangerous race to the bottom.

    Walmart isn’t just a retail giant—it’s a bully that’s used to pushing people around and getting its way. But not in New York City: here the RWDSU, UFCW, and the Walmart Free NYC Coalition have used intense grassroots pressure to fight back and build a movement to keep Walmart out. The report released today from Food and Water Watch reminds us why we must stay vigilant in our opposition.

    But we’re not just here to talk about what we’re against. We’re also here to talk about what we’re for—a vision of New York City that is shared by many residents across the five boroughs. Imagine a city with more good union jobs, more retail and grocery options in underserved areas, and a diverse marketplace in which more companies treat their suppliers and workers with respect and dignity.

    That is the city we are focused on creating—the very same city Walmart is focused on destroying.

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    Crain's Insider: Where the Walmarts Aren't

    Ripco Real Estate—which is hoping to bring a Walmart to Gateway II in Brooklyn’s East New York—is simultaneously luring other retail giants to the Bronx’s new Throggs Neck Shopping Center by billing that site as Walmart-free. “One can safely predict a successful shopping center,” says the commercial real estate broker’s website. “There are no Walmarts.” An insider opposed to Walmart opening in New York scoffed. “This is pretty ironic and proves what we are saying,” he said. “Walmart puts nearby retail stores out of business.” A spokesman for the retail giant declined to comment. Read the original post from Crain’s Insider.

    • 2 years ago
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