Skip to main content

OK, building industry workers are often local. That doesn't mean good news for blacks, or that Atlantic Yards has made much of a difference.

Blacks missing out on construction jobs wrote Crain's blogger Greg David Wednesday, in a post that raised more questions than it answered:
Workers in New York City's construction industry overwhelmingly live in the city (75%), and their relatively high wages bolster the middle class (71% live in households with incomes of at least $50,000), according to a report issued this week by the New York Building Congress. Even better, the report found, 84% were able to secure employment in the industry without a college degree.
The bottom line is that this sector allows city residents with limited advanced education to earn good money—exactly what New York needs.
I'm not so sure about that. The New York Building Congress report, headlined THREE-QUARTERS OF NEW YORK CITY BUILDING INDUSTRY WORKERS LIVE IN THE FIVE BOROUGHS: 56 Percent of NYC-Dwelling Workers Live and Work in the Same Borough, stated:
Approximately 26 percent of all building industry workers lived in households with incomes greater than $125,000 in 2013. Forty-five percent of workers reported household earnings between $50,000 and $125,000. Twenty percent reported earnings between $25,000 and $49,999, and 9 percent reported household earnings of less than $25,000 annually.
A household with two adults each earning $25,000 fits into that 71% that David cited, and that's hardly middle-class by New York standards; they would be eligible for public housing.

Fewer blacks, less health insurance = weakening unions

David notes that African-Americans, "who represent 25% of city residents, compose only 13% of the construction workforce." Hispanics are overrepresented. Also, only half construction workers had health insurance, a decline of 3 percentage points from 2012.

Writes David, "There may be a lot wrong with the construction unions and their onerous work rules that inflate costs, but this is a stain on the alternative." It's not the only stain. Some percentage of nonunion jobs are extremely hazardous.

The lesson--unspecified in the New York Building Congress report--is that there are fewer union jobs, a statistic that remains unquantified.

In fact, the report actually addressed the broader category of "building industry workers," which includes off-the-books laborers as well as white-collar positions:
According to the survey, which is based on personal responses and incorporates both union and non-union labor as well as participation by “off the books” workers, construction and other blue-collar operations accounted for 79 percent of the industry workforce. The remainder of the workforce, as defined by the Census Bureau, consisted of sales and service occupations as well as white-collar jobs, such as architects, engineers, and management.
The Atlantic Yards angle

The lagging pace for black workers also conjures up the extravagant promises and hopes regarding Atlantic Yards, specifically a new path to union construction jobs through BUILD, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, now defunct and subject to a bitter lawsuit by some who entered a coveted training program but didn't get those union jobs.

And there are some jobs at the FC Modular plant in the Brooklyn Navy Yard--note the information session next Wednesday, in the graphic above right--but only for those with at least one year of construction trade experience. That doesn't change the paradigm the way BUILD promised.


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…