2012-05-04 / Top Stories

Council Overrides Bloomberg Pay Veto

Mayor Threatens Lawsuit Against Council

The City Council, in what is seen as a slap in the face to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has overridden his veto of the fair wage bill by a vote of 45-5, raising wages for workers on city-subsidized projects.

Last week, Bloomberg threatened to sue if the Council overrode his veto and made the bill into law.

The mayor announced a veto of a bill the Council passed last month by a 45- to-4 margin that would require employers at city-subsidized projects to pay the prevailing-wage rate to building service workers.

Bloomberg also said he would veto a living-wage bill that passed the Council on earlier this week that would require some employers at subsidized projects to pay workers $10 an hour plus benefits, or $11.50 without benefits.

“Those 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,” said Bloomberg, who earlier this month, on his radio show, compared the living-wage bill to the policies of the former Soviet Union. “The Council wants to take revenue from owners and give it to a select group of employees. That’s not the way the free market works.”

Bloomberg said he believes government has “an obligation” to set a mini- mum wage, but beyond that, private businesses should be free to make their own decisions on employee pay. He said that government provides subsidies to spur development in areas that would not otherwise be viable, and that businesses will not make investments if compelled to pay workers more than their competitors.

“They won’t do it,” he said. “And those jobs will be lost, and so will the tax revenues they would have generated.”

On Monday, a City Council victory celebration was disrupted when a heckler called Bloomberg “Pharaoh Bloomberg.”

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a leading Democratic candidate to run for Bloomberg’s job and who is widely seen as a Bloomberg loyalist, snapped, “That’s not appropriate.”

Quinn demanded an apology and when the crowd jeered her and she did not get it, she walked out, saying, “I’m not going to participate in name-calling.”

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