News that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is proposing an exemption to the Living Wage bill for the Hudson Yards project is not a welcome development.
$10 an hour with benefits ($400 per week/$1600 per month) and $11.50 without benefits ($460 per week/$1840 per month) is hardly affordable living for working New Yorkers.
Exemptions and compromises of this nature in a city already deeply divided by class will only exacerbate those differences and continue to reward the wealthy in gaining profit on the backs of low-wage workers.
I read an inspiring profile of New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson, and was struck by a story he told of experiencing his father's death at the age of 13: "Woodson's father Chester worked two or three jobs at a time, delivering pianos, managing laundromats, mowing lawns; he died of a heart attack when Woodson was thirteen. 'I just truly believe that he worked himself to death,' Woodson said."
It's important to remember that policy decisions of this nature effect real people in real ways.
Parents working themselves to death; workers getting sick without health care; and over-taxing an already burdened health-care system (running dangerously close to having recently passed reforms dismantled by the Supreme Court); and perpetuating an economic and class divide in a city that prides itself on its diversity are realities that will all come to bear without a decent Living Wage.
I would like to see a future candidate for Mayor of New York fully endorse a Living Wage for working New Yorkers, without exemptions.
If you don't like this idea of exemptions either, join me in letting the Council Speaker know. You can contact her office at 212.564.7757.