Expansion of NYC “Living Wage” Law Set to Help Retail Workers

UFCW/RWDSU staff and members are joining allies and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in support of the passage of a new bill that they are framing as an expansion of the “Living

Wage” law enacted in 2012. The new bill would bar retail tenants in developments that receive city subsidies from opposing efforts from workers to organize and join a union. In return, union members would promise not to picket the stores or call for work stoppages.

In his State of the City Address this week, Mayor de Blasio stated that he will push efforts to pass the new bill and improve working conditions and wages for workers in the city.

As an official supporter of the new bill, President RWDSU District Council of the UFCW Stuart Applebaum argues that even though the bill does not directly affect wages, through collective bargaining, workers can achieve not just higher wages, but steadier hours and better workplace conditions.

The current “Living Wage” law requires companies that receive city subsidies, and their on-site contractors or subcontractors, to pay workers at least $10 an hour plus benefits, or $11.50 without benefits, above the state’s minimum of $8 an hour. There are many exemptions to the current law, though, including companies with less than $5 million in annual revenue, manufacturing companies and companies that receive less than $1 million in subsidies.