Skip to main content

As law proposed to require minimum wages on subsidized project (so as to avoid CBAs), Bloomberg resorts to distortion

At a panel May 17 on Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), Al Rodriguez, General Counsel to the Bronx Borough President, argued that that certain aspects of CBAs--such as living wages and local hiring--should be institutionalized, not negotiated.

And last week a bill was introduced in City Council to require living wages on certain economic development projects that are benefiting from city subsidies, thus removing it from "negotiations," such as with the Atlantic Yards CBA.

Affordable housing

It's notable that Mayor Mike Bloomberg's criticism of the bill relies on a mischaracterization of it.

In a May 25 article headlined City Takes Another Pass at a Living Wage Bill, WNYC's Matthew Schuerman reported:
Bloomberg spoke out against the living wage bill Monday, saying that the reason these projects need city subsidies is that they wouldn't stand on their own otherwise.

"We’re trying to build more affordable housing. We're trying to provide more services for the elderly," he says. "The economics don't work if you have to pay more."

But according to a copy of the bill introduced Tuesday, affordable housing projects and buildings that house social services organizations would be exempt from the living wage requirements.
Schuerman also noted that the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is commissioning a study of how a living wage bill would work.

From the Observer

The Observer's Eliot Brown reported, in a May 25 article headlined Living Wage Bill Formally Introduced; Bloomberg Smirks:
The bill, dubbed the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, would force most every development receiving city subsidies of at least $100,000 to require a minimum wage of $11.50 an hour (or $10 and benefits) for anyone working in the development, a mandate that would mostly affect retail jobs (which tend to be low wage).

The Bronx elected officials—led by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.—and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union are launching a campaign on the issue (with T-shirts, a logo, a Web site and all), and held a press conference Tuesday at City Hall (one which Mayor Bloomberg walked by with a smirk on his face) to press the issue.

Indeed, the text of the bill certainly displays more effort and some sense of reality than a similar bill introduced by some of the same elected officials last session. That bill called for all developments receiving at least $10,000 of subsidy to mandate the living wage, something that would anger far more subsidy recipients. The new bill also exempts developments used exclusively for affordable housing, and developments that house a cultural institution or social services organization.
Bloomberg: "free market works much better"

In an interview May 28 on The John Gambling Show, Bloomberg said he couldn't support the bill: "There are some projects that... like affordable housing, do not make any sense if the government.... the project's just not going to get done... an awful lot of nonprofits we help, they would be devastated."

Bloomberg's conclusion: "The free market works much better."

"Having the public subsidize some workers and not others is not fair," he added.

Um, couldn't the same be said about "some projects and not others"?

DMI response

John Petro of the liberal Drum Major Institute commented May 25:

It seems the mayor has a short memory. Just last year the city agreed to include wage requirements as part of the redevelopment of Coney Island--prevailing wages for hotel and building service workers and living wages for other workers.

But if the "economics don't work," as the mayor claimed yesterday, then why did the administration agree to these requirements for Coney Island? Unless Bloomberg is purposefully trying to kill the redevelopment plan, there must be some disconnect in the mayor's logic.

The fact is: there is no evidence that the bill would kill development in the city. Close to 20 other cities have successfully put wage standards on city-subsidized development projects. Los Angeles, for example, currently has 130 development projects in construction or in the pipeline, representing $10 billion in private investment and 3.5 million square feet of new commercial space. And yet, Los Angeles has had a living wage requirement for city-subsidized projects since 2003 and a prevailing wage requirement since 1986.

By guaranteeing that every job created by public subsidies pays a living wage, the bill would maximize the impact of our subsidy tax dollars at a critical time of budget shortfalls and service cuts. Higher earnings by workers at subsidized projects would generate more economic growth as these workers channel their earnings back into the local economy and patronize small businesses.

Looking for data

Crain's, in a May 25 article headlined City Hall sponsoring big ‘living wage' study, reported:
As organized labor and its elected allies push to tie “living wage” standards to publicly subsidized development initiatives, the city is commissioning a study to examine the feasibility of such requirements, according to sources familiar with the plan.

City officials hope that nearly a dozen labor, business and civic groups will participate in an advisory committee to shape the terms of the study. The groups—which range from 32BJ SEIU and the Hotel and Motel Trades Council to the Real Estate Board of New York and the Partnership for New York City—would be able to provide data and offer examples from cities that already have living wage mandates.
Crain's noted that (as I've reported) Comptroller John Liu has set up a task force to examine the role of public benefit agreements in development projects.

Given the well-balanced composition of the task force, I suspect gridlock is not unlikely.

Comments

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…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in January 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.

As …

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

As…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…