Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NYC Council Progressive Caucus Applauds Study by Center for American Progress on the Benefits of Higher Wage Standards

Caucus Members Call for Passage of Legislation to Ensure that Taxpayer-Funded Subsidies in NYC Create Good Jobs

Members of the New York City Council Progressive Caucus hailed today’s release by the Center for American Progress of “Creating Good Jobs in Our Communities: How Higher Wage Standards Affect Economic Development and Employment.” The Progressive Caucus welcomed the study’s findings, and called for passage of two key pieces of legislation to insure that taxpayer-funded subsidies in New York City are used to create good jobs. The study is available at:

Too often, taxpayer-funded subsidies and incentives – issued in the name of job creation and economic development – are used by developers and corporations to create low-quality jobs that pay poverty wages and provide no benefits. To combat this problem, cities across the country have adopted wage standards to make sure that when businesses receive subsidies, they are required to pay their workers family-supporting wages.

The new study released today by the Center for American Progress (CAP) finds that wage standards do not have a negative effect on job creation. Cities that have applied these standards saw the benefits of family-supporting jobs, and still maintained the same levels of employment growth as a comparable group of cities without wage standards. This study proves that, despite arguments from the opposition to the contrary, it is not necessary to compromise job growth for job quality.

The Progressive Caucus called for passage of two bills before the New York City Council that would apply wage standards of the type studied in the CAP report:
  • Intro 18 (sponsored by Progressive Caucus co-chair Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito) would require owners of buildings receiving financial assistance from the City to pay a prevailing wage to their building-service workers.
  • Intro 251 (sponsored by Progressive Caucus member Council Member Annabel Palma and Council Member G. Oliver Koppell) would require companies receiving economic development benefits to pay a living wage to all workers in the project.

With nearly a third of all New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet, New York must do more to help create good, family-sustaining jobs,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “If developers want large hand-outs from the City, they should commit to doing right by the New Yorkers who are helping finance these lucrative projects. In passing the Good Jobs Bill and the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, we as a City will be putting our foot down to end the practice of subsidizing poverty-wage jobs. I stand with my colleagues in calling for the passage of these two critical measures.”

"The Center for American Progress report clearly illustrates the great potential of the Prevailing Wage and Living Wage bills,” said Council Member Annabel Palma. “The report debunks the theory that these bills would hurt our city’s competitiveness and confirms that, if enacted, both Prevailing Wage and Living Wage would provide thousands of New Yorkers access to the well-paying jobs they need and deserve."

Public subsidies should create quality jobs not poverty wage jobs,” said Caucus co-chair Council Member Brad Lander. “This is really a pretty simple idea, and I am pleased that the Center for American Progress study shows that this common sense policy doesn’t cost cities jobs.”

"Economic development that receives public funds must be responsible and create good jobs for its workforce," said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. "Our city should never subsidize poverty level jobs. These two pieces of legislation are the right thing to do."

The Low Road vs. the High Road

The Caucus also highlighted “low road” and “high road” economic development projects in New York City. High road projects create good jobs, with health benefits, to help grow the city’s economy and create widely shared prosperity. Low road projects create jobs with poverty-level wages, enabling developers to make money on a project without sharing the benefits with their workers.
  • Low Road: The redevelopment of Albee Square Mall into “CityPoint” has received City subsidies for the development of a shopping mall in Downtown Brooklyn, the city's third largest business district. Under the current agreement there are no labor standards, opening the door for low-wage retail jobs with few employment protections.
  • High Road: The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center received City subsidies to rehab a loft building in East Williamsburg that will house over 100 well-paying manufacturing and industrial jobs.

Wage standard legislation would ensure that NYC subsidies are only used for high road projects, with good jobs for working families. The CAP study shows this to be the more responsible route, so that communities can encourage investment in good jobs without a negative effect on job growth.

Creating jobs doesn’t have to mean a race to the bottom—job quality and job quantity can go hand in hand,” said Council Member Letitia James.