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Federal Court Dismisses Bloomberg Administration’s Challenge to ‘Living Wages’ Bill

The “living wages” bill, passed in 2012 required companies receiving over $1 million in tax breaks or financing from the City of New York to ensure payment of low-wage workers a minimum of $10 per hour with benefits or $11.50 without benefits. That seems too much to ask for? Well to some it did, and Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the bill holding that it would create an environment adverse to investment in the city.

The City Council of New York, however, overrode Bloomberg’s veto and sought to implement “living wages” for thousands of low-paid workers. However, the City of New York sued the City Council in federal court.

On Tuesday, the federal court in Manhattan dismissed the lawsuit holding the City of New York did not have locus standi in the matter, as it couldn’t prove that it “suffered a concrete and particularized injury” if the “living wage” bill was implemented.

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The bill’s lead sponsors, Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn released a press statement observing “Today is a real victory for every New Yorker who is struggling to make it into the middle class.”

The Bloomberg administration, however, plans to take the case now to state courts where they expect more favorable results. A spokesman for the city law department said, “We look forward to having this case heard on the merits,” as reported in the New York Daily News.

As the “living wages” bill is applicable only to those organizations which received more than $ 1 million from the city in tax breaks or financing, it is difficult to see how the city is affected by assuring $10 per hour in such big organizations.

Bloomberg continues to oppose raising minimum wages for low-wage earners and another similar bill is also pending before the court. That bill, named the “prevailing wage” bill sought to raise the minimum wages of security guards, but was similarly vetoed by Bloomberg, followed by the City Council overriding the veto, and the city ending up in suing the City Council.

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