The Real Deal New York

Cuomo won’t approve 421a without support of union labor

The governor vowed to oppose efforts to promote 'open shop'

April 19, 2016 03:20PM

James Cahill, Andrew Cuomo and Gary LaBarbera

James Cahill, Andrew Cuomo and Gary LaBarbera

Three months after the death of 421a, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wants no part of a subsidy program that doesn’t support union labor.

Cuomo vowed on Tuesday that he wouldn’t sign a bill related to the program that “is not accepted as a fair deal by organized labor and by the building trades” at a conference held by the North America Building Trades Union. Cuomo railed “forces” in Albany that want to make the program “open shop,” saying that New York State is a “bastion of labor support.” 

“It’s about a piece of legislation called 421a, but forget 421a. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s open shop or a government program that recognizes the importance of union labor and prevailing wage,” he said, according to Politico. “That’s what’s at stake and that’s what’s on the table and I want you to know this: I will stand shoulder to shoulder with organized labor.”

Brian Sampson, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors, said he was “shocked” by the governor’s stance.

“Gov. Cuomo’s blind loyalty to big union bosses is irresponsible, and it’s killing affordable housing and good jobs,” he said in a statement.

REBNY spokesperson, Jamie McShane, said that 421-a has helped build affordable housing throughout the city and “attaching a construction prevailing wage to the program will dramatically increase the cost of the program and/or result in a lot less rental housing.”

Cuomo’s support of the unions is no surprise, but his promise is arguably one of the most explicit statements he’s made publicly about where he stands on the lapse of 421a since he put labor groups and the Real Estate Board of New York in charge of the program’s renewal. Last year, the state attached a prevailing wage requirement to 421a and charged the unions and developers with reaching an agreement on the issue. Negotiations collapsed in January and no alternatives to the program have been publicly presented.

Earlier this month, Cuomo indicated that a replacement program would likely be put in place before the State Legislature adjourns in June. At the time, he said the replacement program would be precipitated by a “kumbaya” moment.  [Politico]Kathryn Brenzel

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