The Coalition for Economic Justice and members of our Subsidy Action Committee gave a presentation on economic development and quality job standards before the Policy Committee of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency earlier this morning. Our message was simple: public money should create jobs that lift workers out of poverty. We called for a $15/hour living wage for all employees of projects receiving ECIDA public subsidies.
The ECIDA Policy Committee responded by making a living wage policy one of two of their top priorities to develop within the next year. With this step, the ECIDA can work toward creating a clear policy that guarantees that when the agency gives developers and businesses public subsidies, the jobs they create at least pay a family self-sufficiency wage of $15/hour and is indexed to inflation.
Far too often, our economic development programs give tax breaks and other public subsidies to companies that create low wage jobs that keep workers and their families in poverty. Instead, we presented an alternative that would be a significant step toward creating a region where all Western New Yorkers live in vibrant communities and have good jobs that sustain their families.
The solution is for the ECIDA to adopt a quality job policy, similar to living wage ordinances that exist in over 140 cities across the country, including the City of Buffalo. What we mean by a living wage is that everyone who works deserves to earn enough to provide for themselves and their families; to earn a wage that is above the poverty line; a paycheck that doesn’t leave a worker who works full-time dependent on public assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid. A living wage is essentially a self-sufficiency standard.