Bronx Newspapers Combined Editorial: Living Wage Dies

Editor’s note: This editorial reflects the opinion of the Norwood News, The Riverdale Press, Hunts Point Express and Mott Haven Herald, and appears (or will appear) in all four publications.

The battle to require businesses that receive city subsidies to pay their workers a living wage began with a bang when Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. led a fight to reject the creation of a shopping mall at the Kingsbridge Armory if retail workers weren’t paid enough to make ends meet in this most expensive of cities.

The battle has ended with a whimper.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn has gutted the bill sponsored by Bronx Council members Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma. Developers to whom taxpayers give $1 million or more will be required to pay a minimum wage of $10 an hour. Their tenants, however, can continue to pay $7.25.

So when the Kingsbridge Armory is redeveloped, those who work there will be stuck with the same low wages as before. And citywide, according to Quinn, no more than 500 workers will be helped by the new law.

In the time-honored manner of politicians, Quinn and the proponents of the measure that would have extended a decent wage to retail workers are hailing this travesty as a compromise.

Diaz’s statements saluting the deal and the revival of talks to develop the armory expose him as an empty suit.

And Quinn’s measure re-emphasizes how powerless rank-and-file members of the body she heads are. Like Diaz, all they can do is fall into line and issue face-saving press releases.

Hard-working New Yorkers can’t make ends meet. They need food stamps and the help of food pantries.

Small wonder that those who are seriously concerned with the growing inequality in our city stand aloof from conventional politics, and would rather occupy Wall Street than support the occupants of City Hall.

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