UPDATED: Yonkers weighs ‘living wage’ of $15-an-hour

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Phil Jones of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union speaks in support of legislation that would create a $15-an-hour “living wage” in Yonkers at a press conference outside a Costco wholesale store in northern Yonkers Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (handout)

YONKERS — Businesses receiving tax breaks from the city would have to pay workers $15 an hour with health benefits under new legislation before the City Council.

The new “living-wage” bill has the support of the four Democrats on the seven-member council. A similar bill won council approval twice in 2007 but was vetoed by former Republican Mayor Phil Amicone both times.

Democratic Mayor Mike Spano’s office signaled preliminary support for the new proposal Friday, saying the administration wants to hear public feedback. Council members are ironing out details of the bill in committee.

Supporters of the legislation held a press conference Friday outside a Costco in northern Yonkers, where advocates touted the wholesale store’s $16 average hourly wage.

The minimum wage in New York state is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage.

“It is unacceptable to pay wages that are not enough to reach even the most basic level of self-sustainability,” Yonkers Councilman Christopher Johnson said Friday.

The council proposal is modeled on a living-wage law in Philadelphia, Penn., that requires that city’s contractors to pay their employees $10.88 an hour, or 150 percent of the federal minimum wage.

In Yonkers, the wage requirements would apply to city contractors and subcontractors with contracts worth more than $25,000 — as well as to employers receiving more than $150,000 in tax breaks or financial incentives from the city.

If approved, the Yonkers council bill would take effect Dec. 31. It would start off mandating an hourly wage of $12, plus $1.50 for health benefits if they aren’t provided by the employer; the rate would rise to $15-an-hour by 2015.

 

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