Thursday, May 19, 2011

NY City Council Hearing on the Living Wage Bill - May 12th, 2011

Over 400 people turned out to the high-energy rally. Kimberly Ortiz, a member of the Retail Action Project, testified about working at a concession stand at the Statue of Liberty for $9.00 an hour. "Does that sound like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to you?" she asked. Council Member Darlene Mealy, who hosted the hearing as Chair of the Contracts Committee said "Our rents keep going up, food keep[s] going up, gas keep[s] going up, but our salaries don't go up." The rally culminated in a powerful moment of prayer during which the clergy marched across to 250 Broadway and the crowd turned to face the building. We raised up our hands and shouted for the walls of oppression to come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho, while the Shofar sounded seven times.

An extraordinary number both supportive and undecided council members participated in the hearing, a testament to the importance of this issue. For two and a half hours they went toe to toe with Bloomberg's representative Tukombo Shobowale. Citing the bogus million dollar study, he painted a doomsday scenario of tremendous job loss and stalled development in the outer boroughs. Council members did not buy it. Brad Lander called the study a “$1 million whitewash.” Charles Barron said "Wall Street profits, while we suffer. The study is a lie. You can alter a study to say anything." And Robert Jackson asked the Economic Development Corporation to try living on a salary of $20,000 a year.

Our team provided powerful testimony. Linda Archer, a McDonald's worker who was only given a 20 cent raise and a "rising star" t-shirt for her stellar job performance at the fast-food chain told the council they would be "rising stars" if they passed the bill. We also heard from Caitlin Kelly, author of the book "Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail," Rev. Stephen Phelps of the Riverside Church, Dr. Ray Rivera of the Latino Pastoral Action Center and our excellent team of policy experts, including an expert from LA, testified that this law will help lift people out of poverty without all the negative consequences Bloomberg claims. Scroll down for links to media coverage.

Upcoming Event in Queens:
Mall Workers Speak Out for a Living Wage!
This Saturday May 21st, 3-5pm
St. Paul The Apostle Church
98-16 55th Ave., Corona
M/R train to Woodhaven Blvd

Media Coverage: