The Real Deal New York

Council bill would boost construction worker pay on city-assisted projects

Laborers would get a prevailing wage
April 17, 2015 09:00AM

The City Council introduced union-friendly legislation Thursday that would grant a prevailing wage to construction workers employed on projects that are getting discretionary assistance from the city.

The bill would be a boon to unions, as many developers would be forced to hire union workforces or at least give union-like benefits, but critics say that it could slow affordable housing development, according to Capital New York.

“It’s a really good bill,” said Council member Elizabeth Crowley, the bill’s sponsor. “It’s going to go a long ways in making sure people working on construction sites make a fair wage.”

Projects receiving the soon-up-for-renewal 421a tax abatement would not be included under the law. However, many projects that receive “discretionary” assistance to build more than 20 percent affordable units may be affected.

“You’re either going to get fewer units subsidized or you’re going to have to put more subsidy dollars in,” said Jerilyn Perine, executive director of the Citizens Housing & Planning Council. “You can’t just keep the subsidy the same and think you’re going to get the same—and make the costs higher. That sort of mathematical equation doesn’t work.”

Union workers have recently protested major projects that have opted to use non-union labor such as JDS Development’s 111 West 57th Street. [Capital NY] — Tess Hofmann