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Topic: Riverbay raising minimum wage of Co-op City employees
Posted: Dec 03 2016 at 11:59am By Administrator
Riverbay raising minimum wage of Co-op City employees

Approximately 120 Riverbay Co-op City employees will receive an unexpected but needed raise as of January 1, 2017 as Co-op City's Riverbay Board of Directors passed a resolution earlier this month to raise the community's minimum wage to $15 an hour, nearly two years before the new minimum wage becomes mandatory throughout New York State.

According to Riverbay's Finance Director Peter Merola, the resolution will affect approximately 100 to 120 employees, the majority of whom are lobby attendants and the rest being temporary employees hired seasonally to help out the full-time staff when workloads and vacations increase, specifically during the summer months.

For most of these employees, the raise is significant, increasing their hourly wage by as much as $2 to $3 per hour and creating for them what is considered a living wage to help them support their families and pay for housing, food and transportation in this increasingly expensive New York metropolitan area.

Riverbay Treasurer Deborah Jenkins, who also chairs the Board's Labor Relations Committee, said that in light of the New York State legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo enacting legislation to increase the minimum wage in the state to $15 as of the end of 2018, "We thought that Riverbay, as the second largest employer in the Bronx, should not wait until the wage becomes mandatory, but be a leader and show the employees and the rest of the Bronx that the corporation is a good employer and supports its employees. We believe that paying a fair living wage makes for better employees, and increases morale throughout the corporation. And it is just the right thing to do."

The raise will increase the community's salary expenditures by approximately a half million dollars a year, the Riverbay Finance Department reported, Mrs. Jenkins, who also serves the Co-op City community as Pastor of the Faith @ Work Christian Church and as President of the Riverbay Fund, said the resolution was first brought to the Board in the spring of this year after Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law making the new minimum wage mandatory as of the end of 2018. She explained that because Riverbay was currently negotiating with two unions at the time, the extra expenditure did not have strong support then as several directors apparently remained on the fence until the other more pressing labor matters were resolved.

The resolution was reintroduced as a first reading at a Board of Directors meeting on October 17, 2016 and the needed support at that point seemed to be there.

On November 9, 2016, after the resolution's second reading and follow-up discussion by the Board, the support for the raise was nearly unanimous. Ten directors voted yes on the resolution with two abstaining and another three not present for the meeting.

Riverbay Board First Vice President Bernie Cylich, who co-sponsored the resolution, said: "Making sure that all Coop City employees have a fair living wage is essential to their well-being. This is part of an effort that is well-underway throughout the nation, not just here. Folks cannot survive unless their wage is adequate. From a practical standpoint, the raise improves morale and rightfully sends the message that we care about our employees."

By Bill Stuttig
Co-op City Times is now online

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