The Real Deal New York

Union labor law no quick fix for affordable housing: OPINION

Mandating union construction would prevent hiring of local contractors, per op-ed

April 09, 2014 05:50PM

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From left: Atlantic Yards rendering, Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner and Goldman Sachs Urban chief executive Gary Cohn

From left: Atlantic Yards rendering, Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner and Goldman Sachs Urban chief executive Gary Cohn

A trade group for New York’s affordable housing sector is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to consider whether using union labor for inclusionary zoning projects will do any good, according to an op-ed from member Nancy Lepre.

A recently-proposed law requiring union labor on all affordable housing developments is “no magic bullet” for reaching Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing goals, wrote Lepre, a member of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing. Whether such a measure would make construction sites any safer, improve worker wages or benefits is equally uncertain, she opined.

“Furthermore, mandating union labor on all affordable housing projects will only prevent hiring local subcontractors,” Lepre wrote. Such obstacles to development, she said, could ultimately do more harm than good in the pursuit of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing push.

Lepre, who runs a painting and contracting businesses, is on the trade group’s board along with Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and Forest City Ratner Companies, whose Atlantic Yards project is slated to house 2,250 units of affordable housing, as previously reported[Crain's] Angela Hunt

  • Anna Booth

    It comes as no surprise that a group devoted to paying low wages to workers opposed being asked to share their profits with their workforce

    • HughGass

      Why would they, the workforce is not their partner. They do not share in the risk. If they want a share of the profits, they should give back wages if the project does poorly. What’s the old expression, something about cake and eating it too.

      • Leonidas

        But it’s ok for the government to backstop projects for which there was no MARKET DEMAND?

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