The Daily Dirt: Construction union ramps up wage bill campaign

Wages and benefits would be set at $40 per hour

New York City Laborers’ Union Pushes Construction Wage Floor
(Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty)

A construction union is ramping up its campaign to set a wage floor for some affordable housing projects. 

The Construction Justice Act, a measure backed by the laborers’ union, is expected to be reintroduced in the City Council in the coming weeks. The measure would set a floor for construction worker wages and benefits of $40 per hour at certain housing projects that receive public funding. 

A source familiar with negotiations says the measure will likely exclude project receiving as-of-right benefits, such as the property tax break 421a. Stakeholders are still hashing out the dollar threshold for subsidies and the unit count at which the wage requirements would kick in, though they are considering between 50 and 75 units for the latter.  

As part of its campaign, the union is holding a rally Thursday at Edgemere Commons, a 2,000-plus unit affordable housing project that is being funded through various city, state and federal programs. The union and some state legislators have called on the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to remove one of the project’s contractors, Joy Construction, citing a recent violation for failing to report an injury on the site. 

“If the CJA were already law, contractors like Joy Construction would have to meet higher standards for how they pay and treat construction workers who build Edgemere Commons and other city-subsidized affordable housing developments,” Mike Prohaska, business manager of Laborers’ Local 79,  said in a statement. “The CJA will help fix this broken system, while delivering the construction justice that workers and communities across the city deserve.”

As developers push for a replacement for the property tax break 421a, getting the administration to sign off on new wage requirements for other affordable housing may be a tough sell. At the same time, the unions are fighting for market share and some have managed to work out deals with developers. So far, developers view the laborers’ bill as a more workable proposal than another measure backed by the carpenters’ union. 

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A thing we’ve learned: The mayor and City Council have a separate stock of chairs at City Hall for press conferences. Deputy chief of staff to the mayor Menashe Shapiro tried to recoup chairs occupied by reporters who had settled into the City Hall rotunda, waiting for a rally in support of the How Many Stops Act, which the mayor vetoed last week.

 “If the City Council wants to give you something to sit on, it’s for the City Council (to do),” Shapiro said, according to City & State

Elsewhere in New York…

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Douglas and Jonathan Durst filed a lawsuit against centrist group No Labels for allegedly shifting “seismically from its original mission, and its donors” and funding a third-party candidate, the New York Times reports. The Dursts provided $145,000 to the group, believing that it would “promote bipartisanship and bridge the political divide,” according to the complaint. 

The Dursts say they never would have provided funding if they knew the group would run a third-party candidate. “That is because, in a presidential election, anyone who votes for a third-party candidate votes on neither side,” the suit states. “Indeed, no third-party candidate has ever won a presidential election or even come close to doing so.” Democrats fear such a candidate would siphon votes away from President Biden. 

— A man who was arrested on Saturday after trying to enter Taylor Swift’s townhouse in Tribeca was taken into custody again on Monday after returning to the pop singer’s home,  the New York Daily News reports

— New Yorkers will soon be able to grow their own marijuana, Gothamist reports. The state’s Cannabis Control Board on Wednesday will vote on rules that would allow adults to cultivate up to six mature marijuana plants and up to six immature plants per residence. 

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential closing Tuesday was $6.8 million for a townhouse at 143 East 69th Street in Lenox Hill.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $34 million for a mixed-use building at 170 East 80th Street on the Upper East Side.

New to the Market: The priciest residence to hit the market Tuesday was a co-op at 164 Perry Street in West Village asking $25 million. Andrew Azoulay has the listing. — Jay Young

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