De Blasio to drop Bloomberg’s prevailing wage suit

Bill de Blasio. (Rob Bennett for the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)
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Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce today that he is dropping the city's challenge to a prevailing wage law passed by the City Council in 2012, officials told Capital.

The law, which was opposed by former mayor Michael Bloomberg, would raise wages for service workers in buildings and developments that receive substantial city subsidies or benefit from rent payments by the city.

Bloomberg vetoed the legislation when it was passed, and sued to stop its implementation after the Council voted to override his veto.

De Blasio had promised to implement the law as mayor, but had not yet taken the formal legal steps to end the city's suit in state court.

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In a joint motion with proponents of the law, the administration argues the court should not block the since "all parties agree on its validity."

“By dropping the City’s challenge to the prevailing wage law, we are taking an important step toward helping families that may be one paycheck away from homelessness and hunger," said de Blasio, in a joint statement with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, president of 32BJ SEIU Hector Figueroa and president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Stuart Appelbaum. "We are moving one step closer to lifting a wage floor that has sunk below ground level."

Bloomberg argued against the bill when he issued his veto, saying the measure would stifle development and drive big business away from the city.

A state judge had ruled in favor of the Bloomberg administration last year, saying the law was pre-empted by state minimum wage laws. At the time, a spokesman for the City Council said the body would take legal steps to have the ruling overturned.

A spokesman for Bloomberg declined to comment on the administration's motion.

If implemented, the law could affect hundreds of service workers at buildings that receive the breaks, as well as guarantee wages for workers in buildings currently in construction.

“We believe projects that receive City subsidies and incentives should pay their workers fairly—and it is our duty to ensure these projects provide living-wage jobs to hardworking New Yorkers," said the joint statement today. "No resident should work full time and still struggle to afford living in this city—and today’s actions will help us provide real opportunity for thousands of hardworking New Yorkers."

The exact wage is set by the city comptroller, depending on the trade or occupation. Certain organizations would be exempt from having to pay the prevailing wage, including nonprofit groups, affordable housing projects, and certain manufacturing projects and small businesses.

The administration has also moved to expand a living-wage law, and has dropped Bloomberg-era challenges to a federal stop-and-frisk lawsuit, a discrimination suit against the FDNY, and a challenge to an anti-profiling law passed by the Council.