‘Historic’ Project Labor Agreements to Provide Union Jobs to Low-Income, Minority NYers

‘Historic’ Project Labor Agreements to Provide Union Jobs to Low-Income, Minority NYers
NBC New York
August 13, 2020

New York City has entered into a “historic” agreement with construction unions, of the building trades, to provide union jobs and access to union apprenticeships to low-income and minority New Yorkers on city projects as part of the Community Hiring NYC initiative, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

De Blasio said that the construction business is “an area where huge amount of spending will happen because there is a lot that needs to be done in New York City…a lot of money will be out there to do that good work, but we need it to reach people that are hardest hit.”

According to de Blasio, having a union job that will turn into a union career should be an opportunity provided to all New Yorkers, especially those in communities that “bore the brunt” of the coronavirus and correlating economic crisis.

“We want the door to be wide open for everyone,” the mayor said.

The labor agreements will help minority and women-owned business succeed through a number of ways, including:

  • Offering more flexibility on smaller construction contracts;
  • Providing experience on city projects;
  • Building their companies;
  • Continue hiring from within their communities.

“I just want to say that everyone who was a part of this process — on the labor side, on the government side — everyone shared a common vision that, ‘yeah, we have to be inclusive’,” de Blasio said. “We need to create more opportunities in communities of color and find a way to open the door for those minority- and women-owned businesses that we believe in because they hire community people…they give people an opportunity who wouldn’t have had it otherwise.”

The plan includes investing in communities of color and providing opportunities to communities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the mayor.

To get opportunities through these government contracts the minority- and women-owned businesses must be certified. To date 10,000 minority- and women-owned businesses are certified in the city. This is in stark contrast (a 178 percent increase) to a few years ago, according to de Blasio, when “very few businesses were in New York City.”

To date, the administration awarded $16 billion to minority- and women-owned businesses, with a goal of $25 billion by the year 2025. De Blasio said the next step is the passing of the Community Hiring State Law, which stipulates that businesses with city contracts must hire from communities of color and require apprentices on city projects.

Deputy Mayor Phillip Thompson said that community hire has long been a demand by communities of color in New York City, adding that city dollars “can lift people out of poverty.”

Meanwhile, Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera said this is a “historic moment for the buildings trades.”

According to LaBarbera, “this agreement is different than any other project labor agreement we’ve ever done with the City of New York” because it is “a commitment by the city to make an investment, billions and billions of dollars into community hiring. It will structure through New York City’s Work Force One a recruitment system where individuals from underserved or impoverished communities will have access to our pre-apprentice programs and our apprentice programs.”

LaBarbera added: “The real opportunity in a union construction job is not just a job — it is a career.”