In a setback for Mayor Bloomberg, a federal judge in Manhattan on Tuesday tossed a city lawsuit against a City Council bill that would boost salaries for thousands of low-paid workers.
The judge found the city had no legal right to stop the measure, known as the “living wage” bill, because it couldn’t prove it “suffered a concrete and particularized injury” by enforcing the law.
The bill, passed in 2012, requires any company that has received over $1 million in tax breaks or financing to pay workers $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without.
Bloomberg vetoed the bill, but the council overrode his veto, prompting the city to sue the council in federal court.
“Today is a real victory for every New Yorker who is struggling to make it into the middle class,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a press statement sent out along with Council members Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma, the bill’s lead sponsors.
But Bloomberg, who insists the bill will hamper job growth, has refused to admit defeat.
Following Tuesday’s decision, administration officials immediately vowed to take the case to state court, where standards governing parties that are eligible to sue might be more favorable to the city’s position.
“We look forward to having this case heard on the merits,” a spokesman for the city law department said.
Stuart Appelbaum, who is president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and has been one of the controversial bill’s most steadfast supporters, said he is “confident” a state court would reach the same decision.
“The city as a party suffered no conceivable injury as a result of the enactment of this living-wage law and the [Council] override of the Mayor’s veto,” he said.
A separate city lawsuit against the council pertaining to a different wage-related bill is still pending.
That bill, the so-called “prevailing wage” legislation, would raise salaries for security guards and custodians at large buildings where the city is the major lease holder. It, too, was passed in 2012 and vetoed by Bloomberg; the council overrode his veto.
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