Yesterday, after the chains connecting activists dressed as Robin Hood on Wall Street were snipped by NYPD boltcutters, bills aimed at reducing the city’s income inequality gap were undercut by the mayor. Before vetoing Christine Quinn’s much-belabored prevailing wage bill, Mayor Bloomberg argued that both the prevailing wage and living wage measures aimed at increasing minimum wage and non-unionized workers’ incomes would somehow hurt taxpayers and job creation in the process, reports the Daily News. It sent a clear message to anyone who might have doubted how a Bloomberg-run town works: Take from the rich and give to the poor, and your pinko ass gets sued.
At least, that’s what Bloomberg threatened to do if City Council overrides his vetoes (which it has vowed to do).
“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 the press before he vetoed the measure.
Well, let’s put it in context: Quinn’s living wage bill, which went through several alterations to win over the business community, aimed to bring up the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour with benefits and $11.25 without. It was decided that the bill would only impact companies that receive more than $1 million in city subsidies, which would only affect 400-500 people a year, the New York Times estimated earlier this month.
The prevailing wage bill, on the other hand, would raise income for service workers in the 41 buildings that the city subsidizes with tax breaks.
“With his veto pen, Mayor Bloomberg has let ideology trump common sense. Government should not sit on its hands as the middle class crumbles,” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “The Prevailing Wage bill is a meaningful step to address income inequality and build a strong middle class.”
In 2011, Bank of America was one city-subsidized corporation with an astronomical gap in CEO-to-worker pay. In 2004, the city granted Bank of America a $42 million subsidy deal on terms that the corporation would both retain and create jobs over the next 25 years, according to Good Jobs New York. However, the deal couldn’t predict that last year, BofA CEO Brian Moynihan would earn 237 times that of an average employee, according to the AFL-CIO’s executive paywatch database. The widening wage gap is a common trend across Fortune 500 companies—on average, the AFL-CIO calculated that while the CEOs’ incomes increased by 14 percent in 2011 from 2010, so did the CEO-to-worker inequality ratio, growing by nearly 11 percent.
Bloomie was correct to fear that a group of people would be treated like cash cow, but he was wrong about which group it was. Consistently, it seems to be the middle and the lower classes that are the ones getting milked.
[via the Daily News]