Queens Center Mall Community activists [including members of Make the Road New York] rallied outside the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst today to oppose the use of taxpayer money to fund projects that don't provide jobs beyond part-time, minimum wage ones. The mall was a chief target of the protesters, as it has received $48 million of property tax subsidies in return for jobs that primarily pay around $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage.
The action was coordinated as part of a statewide campaign called "Getting Our Money's Worth," which took inspiration from a recently-published report that called on state leaders to improve upon the jobs created by much of the recent economic development.
Activists complained that Queens Center encourages poverty in the community by using tax dollars without helping employees better themselves.
A spokesperson for Macerich, which owns Queens Center, said that it "cannot impose a 'living wage' requirement on tenants as a property owner," but that it pays living wages to its own employees in Queens Center. Moreover, Macerich said it honors its role in the community "by actively facilitating community-focused services and events."
"Today, with 12,600 dues-paying members, MRNY is a unique amalgam of worker center, legal clinic, citizenship school, mutual aid society, policy shop, protest factory and church. Its four offices in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island are an egalitarian oasis for members, who gather there for conversation and classes..."