RWDSU President Appelbaum and the Living Wage Bill
April 23, 2012
LaborPress Editorial By Neal Tepel, Publisher
There is no doubt that the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act is landmark legislation. Every year, the City spends billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize economic development. These projects have included the Bronx Gateway Mall, Yankee Stadium, the Goldman Sachs building and the redevelopment of Coney Island. At the same time that subsidies worth billions are provided to developers and businesses, the jobs created with these public funds often pay poverty wages with no benefits. This is clearly a disgrace that needed to be addressed.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW) took a leadership role early on in the battle to achieve a living wage. He was first to address the inequity of workers receiving low wages from companies that had gained taxpayer-funded subsidies. The campaign to achieve a living wage began and ended with President Appelbaum taking on the city council, mayor and the largest corporations in the city.
While exemptions are included in the bill, the living wage requires payment of $10 per hour with $1.50 in supplemental benefits or $11.50 per hour with no benefits. It’s hard to believe that wealthy corporation executives objected to this living wage that barley is enough to support a family. It’s also disappointing how difficult it was to pass the Fair Wages for New Yorkers legislation in the union town and with a friendly city council.
There is no doubt that this landmark legislation will have a far-reaching positive impact on thousands of future jobs in New York City and State.
The following is a statement by RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum:
We built a citywide movement for living wage jobs, and this landmark legislation is the result of that movement. This is a major victory for working people, advocates, civil rights leaders, faith leaders and countless others who fought tirelessly for this bill. But it is only one step along a long road. Working people in New York City and in this country are struggling to survive. We will continue our fight to ensure that all working people are treated with dignity, justice and respect. We thank Speaker Quinn and the City Council for this important milestone in the fight for economic justice and economic fairness.