Thursday, August 21, 2014

Unions, Activists Align on Affordable Housing

A group of New York City construction unions have forged a coalition with affordable housing activists to ratchet up pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio to require organized labor in the building of 80,000 lower-cost apartment units over the next decade.

The unions say they will begin supporting a call for 50% of the new units to be set aside for lower- and middle-income residents, a key tenet of the housing advocates' agenda and a departure from past practice in the city.

Unions are also willing to make an unusual concession, accepting wages that are 40% lower than normal union pay on affordable-housing projects in certain neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and upper Manhattan for a new class of workers with less experience than existing members, many of them drawn from local communities.

The coalition would bring together two powerful interest groups who have traditionally been at odds. Much affordable housing has traditionally been built without union labor because developers, advocates and policy makers say that higher wages means fewer units.


The alliance shifts the political landscape for Mr. de Blasio in a challenging way, as he tries to fulfill his campaign promise of fostering new affordable housing construction while also maintaining positive relationships with real-estate firms that are wary of the 50% requirement.

"The affordable housing community and the trades have not come together in any major way. That's why we sought out this opportunity to be on the same page," said Jonathan Westin, director of New York Communities for Change, a community-organizing group.

In a call for their now mutually beneficial goals, union leaders will demonstrate on Wednesday in Harlem alongside the Real Affordability for All Coalition, which includes about 50 tenants groups and antipoverty advocates, many of whom are allies of the mayor.

Construction union leaders have met with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris about using organized labor as Mr. de Blasio's affordable-housing plan is developed. City officials said significant details remain to be worked through.

"Affordable housing and quality jobs are both priorities for this administration, and we're working to ensure that we're creating more opportunities in affordable-housing programs for the kind of jobs that lift up New Yorkers," a spokesman for the mayor said.

Selling a potential pay cut on some projects presents a challenge for Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an umbrella organization of 15 local affiliates of national and international construction unions that operate in the city.

Mr. LaBarbera said the affordable-housing projects, under his plan, would employ the new group of card-carrying union members at lower wages, but they could advance to higher-paying positions outside the affordable-housing market.

"We can make the projects economically viable and be able to bring in non-union members and people in the community and give them an opportunity to come into the union," Mr. LaBarbera said.

He said that 80% of his member unions support the concept.

Some union leaders in Mr. LaBarbera's group said they were skeptical of a plan involving lower pay.

"If they do that they're not going to get the cream of the crop at that price," said Jack Kittle, political director of District Council 9 International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Also difficult will be winning the support of real-estate developers, who would be likely to take a cut in profit by paying even reduced union wages, especially in building projects composed of 50% affordable units. They said they are concerned with the feasibility of achieving the mayor's housing goals if construction prices rise and about the quality of workers who would take lower rates.

"It's going to be the minor-league workforce, where you can work on an affordable housing project and make $60 an hour or you can work another project and make $100 an hour," said David Kramer, a principal at Hudson Companies, which develops affordable and market-rate housing.

Unions said they are willing to be flexible about wages and work rules to avoid getting shut out of the push for affordable housing, much of it outside of labor's stronghold in Manhattan.

Labor's hold on the private-sector construction industry in New York state has declined over the past decade to 26% from 30% of workers, , according to the Union Membership and Coverage Database using 2013 data from the Current Population Survey.

During the same period, private-sector unionization actually crept up to 16% from 15%. Three decades ago, about half of private-sector construction workers were unionized.

With construction workers busy building office towers and luxury apartments around the city, there is little pressure for unions to pursue affordable-housing jobs now, experts said. But a foothold in affordable housing could ensure them work even through downturns.

"Unions would be concerned in the next couple of years when the amount of construction is greatly reduced. They want to continue with their membership to make sure that they have jobs," said Richard Lambeck, chairman of the construction management program at the New York University School of Professional Studies.

Write to Laura Kusisto atlaura.kusisto@wsj.com

http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/unions-activists-align-on-affordable-housing-1408497156?mobile=y

12 comments:

  1. Selling a potential pay cut on some projects presents a challenge for Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an umbrella organization of 15 local affiliates of national and international construction unions that operate in the city.

    Mr. LaBarbera said the affordable-housing projects, under his plan, would employ the new group of card-carrying union members at lower wages, but they could advance to higher-paying positions outside the affordable-housing market.

    "We can make the projects economically viable and be able to bring in non-union members and people in the community and give them an opportunity to come into the union," Mr. LaBarbera said.

    He said that 80% of his member unions support the concept.

    AS USUAL MR. LARBARBERA IS FULLU DA B.S.!

    A 40% Wage & Benefit reduction here is the foothold that evry clown outside of actual Union Trades holds near & dear to their heart - selling out Union Members at every turn verses actually supporting the International, Distirct Councils and Local Union Men & Woman who pay dues to their useless Organization and whom pay their exhorbitantly high salaries, for which you shall never hear Mr. LaBarbera or any other person of his character volunteer for the same 40% Wage & Benefit Reduction they push for everyone else.

    Another words: another liar, thief & absolute hypocrite.

    Fall for this and it shall be the foot in the door which he and groups like RBNY pray for every night before they go to sleep in their million dollar gated homes!

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  2. Mr. LaBarbera & others of his ilk (RBNY etc.) will quite obviously play the race card here to counter any protest by any International, District Council or Local Union who does not fall in line with its strong arm tactics.

    It is the classic move for socilaist Liberal ideological fools who say waht's good for the goose is not good for the gander. alas; from their Privately Gated Enclaves far away from the city, becuase like all hypoctires, liars and thieves - they get theirs and too damn bad for everyone else.

    You can work for less, but they shall all be damned if they will - just ask them if they too will take a 40% plus paycut starting tomorrow & watch the dodge-ball game & dodging or ignoring the question begin.

    Fatboy Geiger should stand fast after the International & D.C.'s illegal PLA Kick-back give aways of well over $15-Billion in Wage & Benefit reductions (alleged consessions during truthful hard bargaining, when in fact it was a joint RICO conspiracy and racketeering scam w/ Developers & Project Owners, the Court, USAO & RO's office) over 150+ PLA's.

    Free Speech baby - yee ha.

    All US Attorneys, Court appointed Review Officers and International & District Council Union officials are guilty until proven innocent in McCarron's UBCJA & innocent until proven guilty everywhere else in NYC; or are they?

    The numbers never lie nor does the money trail - but the major players always, always lie their proverbial arses off both in & out of court, both verbally, to your face and in writing in violation of their moral & legal obligations and in certain instances, their sworn oaths.

    Bad Boy, Bad Boy -watcha gonna do when they come for you, Bad Boy......

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  3. Dude what does liberal ideology got to do with millionaires and billionaires getting to build real estate that is gold turning ibto platinum have to do with ideology?Maybe you should think about the fact that another rich person has you voting against your best intrests. Are you the Ronald Reagan lover like most uninformed union members are? Ronald Reagan was the beginning of union busting and was the ultimate SCUMBAG towards working folks I wish you cluless post buying MORONS would start to examine the facts.This is middle management that works for the rich plain and simple. A little critical thinking goes a long way. Edgar Bronfman

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    1. agreed bro. this is nothing more than the wealthy man pulling the wool over the working man's eyes.no it is the working man allowing the wealthy man to fuck him. are all of you brain dead?do not run scared. they have NOT TAKEN PAY CUTS. why should we? fuck you i need my living wage to live here.oh yeah joe stop saying that you are RESTORING benefits. it is no where close to the benefits we had pre june 2011. and it is only dental dmo no eyeglass no restoring blue cross to what it was. oh yeah what about the life insurance?how many are feeding at the troth and for how long?????who is part of the problem?FEEDRS AT THE TROTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WE MUST DESTROY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Right now, these jobs are non union $ 8/hr jobs.

    Would you rather have them stay non union, or would you like them to come union, but at a lower pay scale?

    That's what's on the table, brothers - choose wisely

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    1. make no mistake brothers and sisters, we are in a fight for our very existence here. in my opinion there are too many feeders at the troth that must go. most successful businesses have lowest overhead. let them stay 8 bucks an hour. you get what you pay for. we must now accept the fact that we are in the same position as when the unions were being formed. WE MUST LEARN TO BREAK LEGS AND CRACK HEADS AGAIN AND YOU WILL SEE POSITIVE RESULTS

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    2. If you say so _____________ (fill in the blank with anyone of Fordes guys still @ 395)

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    3. Yeah we always choose wisely thats why the took away our right to ratify our own contracts. Maybe you should take forty percent less and set the example wise man. Oh thats right you dont have to because you preform oral sex for guys at the DC. Your just another jerkoff in a long line try to suck his way to sucess. Maybe if the minor leagues pension fund got remitted into ours that might be feasible. Probably not now go run along Geiger just had a meatball hero and hes feeling randy.

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  5. These flats are good for spending holidays. Apartment for rent Phnom Penh is available with luxury facilities with nice location. See here.

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