Thursday, May 12, 2011

           Council Member Oliver Koppell strongly condemned misleading statements made by members of the Bloomberg administration regarding a preliminary report on the impact of living wage legislation Koppell has introduced. 
“While the Mayor’s staff has made grandiose statements about the dire consequences of my proposed bill, a close reading of the ‘Key Findings’ summary while significantly flawed, portrays a different reality,” said Koppell. 
Koppell noted, “The analysis erroneously focuses on New York’s Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP) as-of-right tax abatement program under which many small projects in the outer boroughs receive subsidies.  However, the legislature has not authorized the city to regulate ICAP and it would accordingly not be captured by the proposal.  This misreading of the bill has resulted in much of the modeling being concentrated on projects that would not be covered.  Nor was it the sponsors’ intent that ICAP subsidies would be considered for the purposes of this legislation.  The study should have focused on the large mixed use developments that receive the lion’s share of the city’s discretionary subsidies and which are the target of the proposal.”
“The report,” said Koppell, “even with its faulty analysis, had some positive findings and conclusions with regard to living wage legislation.”  For example, it projects that 34,000 – 62,000 workers would receive increased wages.  It states at several points that living wage mandates actually “reduce urban poverty.”  This finding should be given prominence because it is based on actual experience with living wage ordinances in other cities, not on models based on questionable data.
Another conclusion in the report was that the overall impact on the economy would be de minimis. In great part this is due to the fact that the future jobs that would allegedly not be created, according to the report, are the result of vastly overstated concerns about potential lawsuits by individuals to obtain lost wages at the higher living wage rate and enforcement actions against recalcitrant employers which would be conducted by the City Comptroller under the proposed law.  Additional losses to the economy, according to the report, can be found in its projection that 6,000 – 13,000 jobs would not be created if the living wage law was to be enacted.  Proponents of the legislation do not accept the premise that a living wage mandate will cause a reduction in jobs created.  Nonetheless, it is significant that the report only projects such a small amount of job loss.
Koppell said, “I look forward to a full hearing on the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at the Council.  We will be hearing from a variety of stakeholders and interested parties, including retail workers, economists, unions and clergy.  It will provide us with an opportunity to get the facts straight and moving us closer to passing this important bill.”

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