Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

Mayor Gloomberg Opposes a Living Wage, Would Rather Pass the City’s Millions Out Unchecked

Self-anointed King of the 1%, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is currently trying to defeat the “Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act” that is currently before City Council. This “living wage law” would set wages for any future development act that receives financial assistance of $1 million or higher from the city. If implemented, the law would force affected employers to pay a minimum of $10 an hour plus benefits for full-time workers and $11.50 an hour without benefits for at least 10 years.

Bloomberg is fighting the act, claiming that it will scare off new development. But other cities with similar laws already in effect have not experienced this:

A similar law enacted in 2003 in Los Angeles requires companies receiving city subsidies to pay workers $10.42 an hour or $11.67 without benefits. Despite warnings that the city would lose projects, Donald Spivack, a development official in Los Angeles, said at a Council hearing last month that those predictions were wrong and that he was unaware of any project that was canceled because of the wage requirement. The Center for American Progress found that 15 cities with living wage laws, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland and San Francisco, “had the same levels of employment growth” as other similar cities without the requirements.

Pushing employers to do the right thing and pay a living wage when receiving government subsidy seems like a no-brainer, but in the current state of partisan politics, anti-worker actors want us to believe that lower wages mean more jobs. An example of how blatantly misleading this argument is can be found in Germany where their auto workers earn much higher wages than ours while producing far more product. Put simply, they get paid twice as much while producing twice as much:

In 2010, Germany produced more than 5.5 million automobiles; the U.S produced 2.7 million. At the same time, the average auto worker in Germany made $67.14 per hour in salary in benefits; the average one in the U.S. made $33.77 per hour. Yet Germany’s big three car companies—BMW, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), and Volkswagen—are very profitable.

There are “two overlapping sets of institutions” in Germany that guarantee high wages and good working conditions for autoworkers. The first is IG Metall, the country’s equivalent of the United Automobile Workers. Virtually all Germany’s car workers are members, and though they have the right to strike, they “hardly use it, because there is an elaborate system of conflict resolution that regularly is used to come to some sort of compromise that is acceptable to all parties,” according to Horst Mund, an IG Metall executive. The second institution is the German constitution, which allows for “works councils” in every factory, where management and employees work together on matters like shop floor conditions and work life. Mund says this guarantees cooperation, “Where you don’t always wear your management pin or your union pin.”

Good businessmen often find what works and copy it. As the Republican leadership and select Democratic representatives in the U.S. are telling us to ditch unions and work for less, one of the most productive, most financially sound countries in the world is carrying the torch of strong unions and higher wages. A living wage is a small, first step in the right direction and for Mayor Bloomberg to be against it shows just where his interests lie.

I never thought I’d write this, but…Go Germany!


2 Comments on “Mayor Gloomberg Opposes a Living Wage, Would Rather Pass the City’s Millions Out Unchecked”

  1. Great article - you hit the nail on the head! It is amazing that Bloomberg hands out millions of OUR money each year with no strings attached. The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act will take us one step on the right direction!

  2. He is a BILLIONAIRE that happens to be a Mayor what would you expect?

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