Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more than $1 million in city subsidies.
The order, which took effect as soon as the mayor signed it, raised minimum wages to $13.13 for employees without health insurance, and bumped it up to $11.50 if workers receive benefits.
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De Blasio said some 18,000 employees of private companies in retail, food service, construction and other industries will ultimately receive higher wages over the next five years.
The signing was held in St. Mary’s Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx, which the mayor called a “wonderful neighborhood full of hardworking people,” with a median household income of $20,000 annually.
“That’s the state of affairs in this city, and all over the country right now, and it’s not acceptable,” de Blasio said. “You do not need to be a math major to know that $20,000 a year doesn’t cut it in New York City."
The living wage increase is a stepping stone to raising the minimum wage in New York State to $10.10, de Blasio said. Right now, the state minimum wage is $8 an hour, set to increase to $8.75 on Dec. 31, and to $9 by the end of 2015, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
Before signing the executive order, which bypassed City Council, de Blasio said a single parent working full-time and making minimum wage in New York City makes $270 above the poverty line.
“So, sadly, a minimum wage job means you’re on the verge of poverty, even if you’re working a full work week,” de Blasio said.
Borough presidents, city council members and other officials attended the signing, including U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. Perez called “fair wages” a “centerpiece of President Obama’s agenda,” and that the president has been calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
“I speak to people who are making choice between a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas. I remember a guy I spoke to recently who said, you know, there is no dignity in work when you work a 40 and 50 hours week and you still have to get food through a pantry,” Perez said.
The labor secretary said Republicans were to blame for blocking minimum wage votes, and cited Australia as a conservative government where the country’s minimum wage is at $16.