The Real Deal New York

Prevailing wage debate reignites over pro-union ad campaign

A collective bargaining group supported the lobbying efforts
September 21, 2016 01:30PM

John Banks

John Banks

A group that negotiates labor agreements for contractors reportedly supported a multi-million dollar ad campaign promoting prevailing wages in the 421a debate.

The Building Contractors Association admitted supporting the pro-union lobbying campaign of now-defunct Up4NYC, Politico reported. The group’s involvement is controversial because it negotiates collective bargaining deals between unions and contractors. The Real Estate Board of New York and some developers argue that BCA and groups like it should be neutral.

“It is unfortunate that some segments of the construction industry have helped to fund efforts to prevent more affordable housing from being built in New York City and to allow an ongoing confrontational campaign to be waged against the New York State Association for Affordable Housing,” said REBNY TRData LogoTINY president John Banks.

“These groups are supposed to be honest brokers, but they collect our money and then use it to advocate against our interests,” added Jordan Barowitz of The Durst Organization.

The extension of 421a hinged on REBNY and labor groups agreeing on prevailing wage requirements, but negotiations ultimately failed and the tax abatement program expired in January. In August, a possible replacement program emerged in the form of a one-page memo proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The proposal put forward a new wage subsidy for large projects in Brooklyn and Queens. It’s not yet clear if the proposal will progress, but representatives for the governor have said that it’s one of several proposals currently being floated. [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel