City Council Overrides Bloomberg's Veto of Controversial Wage Bill

By Jill Colvin on May 15, 2012 4:10pm 

The City Council voted to override the mayor's veto of prevailing wage legislation Tuesday.
The City Council voted to override the mayor's veto of prevailing wage legislation Tuesday.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

NEW YORK — The City Council voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of prevailing wage legislation, paving the way for a courtroom showdown between his office and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The bill, which Bloomberg vetoed last month, would boost wages for building service workers, including custodians and security guards, in 41 large buildings where the city leases the majority of space.

While supporters argue tax dollars should not be used to subsidize poverty-level wages, Bloomberg has repeatedly slammed the bill, as well as a related living-wage bill, threatening they will kill jobs and border on communism.

"Those bills — the so-called living and prevailing-wage bills — are a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked, rather than a garden to be cultivated," Bloomberg told reporters in a stinging speech before officially vetoing the bill three weeks ago.

Bloomberg also threatened then that if the council were to override his veto, he would sue.

"Both bills are based on legally dubious theories, and if they become law, we will challenge them in court," he said.

At the time, Quinn, the front-runner to succeed Bloomberg and a usual ally, called the move "disappointing" and stressed that working-class families are desperate for relief.

Council staffers have estimated the bill would boost non-unionized workers' pay by about 35 to 45 percent in affected buildings — with cleaners’ pay jumping from $19 an hour to $24.75, and security guards’ wages increasing from $10 an hour to $12.80.

In addition to the veto, the council also passed new legislation clarifying parking rules so that muni-meter receipts can be re-used at other spots as long as time remains.

"People who are running errands should be able to buy time once and use that time for any spot with the same meter rate. At the end of the day, this is the driver’s money we are talking about. It’s that simple,” said City Councilman James Vacca, who is the chairman of the council’s Transportation Committee and sponsored the bill.

Drivers will be able to transfer their parking receipts from one spot to the next under new legislation passed by the council Tuesday.
Drivers will be able to transfer their parking receipts from one spot to the next under new legislation passed by the council Tuesday.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

The council also voted 44-4 in favor of the Responsible Banking Act, which is intended to ensure that banks are serving the needs of low-income neighborhoods, where banks are often scarce.

The bill creates a new advisory board charged with assessing banking services by neighborhood, making them public and making recommendations about where new services might be needed.

Banks that don't comply may lose the right to carry deposited city cash.

"Bringing together stakeholders to gauge how well banks are serving New Yorkers is a groundbreaking, collaborative approach," Quinn said ahead of the passage.

"Shedding light on any practice is the best disinfectant, and by illuminating the needs of the communities they serve, banks will be better able to meet those needs."

The mayor also opposes the banking bill.

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