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City unveils PLA that gives COVID ravaged communities leg up to union jobs

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a new Community Hiring economic justice plan that includes a Project Labor Agreement obligating unions to hire workers from low income neighborhoods and create more opportunities for minorities and women.

He is also launching a campaign to push legislation in Albany that will allow the city to use its own purchasing power to direct contractors to hire low-income New Yorkers.

The Mayor says his plan would provide an estimated 1,300 construction jobs for every $1 billion in construction for low-income communities leading to an estimated $1 billion in wages and benefits for target communities during the first full year of the program.

“During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we’re taking action to connect low-income New Yorkers to good jobs and even better futures,” said Mayor de Blasio.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

 “We’ll use the City’s purchasing power to address hiring disparities, expand opportunities and invest in our communities of color.  Working together, we can build a fair and equitable future for all New Yorkers.”

First Lady Chirlane McCray said the COVID-19 crisis highlighted a need to inequities in communities “deeply affected by structural racism.”

She said, “Our administration’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, which I co-chair, has taken actions that are already bringing tangible relief to these communities. We feel the urgency of this moment and praise this new collaboration. It is an important, necessary and significant step to creating more pathways to training, employment and economic opportunity.”

Hailing the agreement as an economic opportunity, Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson, said, “Now we need the State of New York to act by passing Community Hiring legislation that would require contractors and businesses working with the City to hire New Yorkers from high poverty neighborhoods. Together with our partners in the State, we can show that City dollars can do more than get work done, it can help lift people out of poverty.”

The Project Labor Agreement was negotiated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC) and covers renovation construction work on City-owned buildings, as well as “selected future projects.”

As part of the agreement Unions will prioritize the referral of workers from zip codes where at least 15 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level and/or are NYCHA residents, aiming to reach an overall goal that at least 30 percent of all hours worked under PLA projects are logged by workers from these zip codes.

Unions will also provide contractors with apprentices on City construction projects up to the maximum number allowed by the New York State Department of Labor when contractors request apprentices. An apprenticeship Memorandum of Understanding establishes, for the first time, specific annual goals for the number of slots provided for both apprentices and pre-apprentices for residents of disadvantaged communities and NYCHA housing.


“This is a truly historic and transformative moment for our city. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, New York City is committing its resources to an unprecedented and unparalleled investment in job creation, workforce development, and community hiring,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

 “For years, New York’s union building trades have prioritized expanding access, equity, and opportunity in neighborhoods across the city. We look forward to building on that commitment and working directly with the administration to ensure that all New Yorkers — especially those in underserved communities — have access not only to our exceptional union apprenticeship and direct-entry programs, but also to the tens of thousands of middle-class careers that this agreement will create. Only through investing in our city’s greatest asset, our working men and women, will we fuel New York’s economic recovery.”

The Mayor is proposing Community Hiring Legislation  in Albany that would establish an Office of Community Hiring and Workforce Development which would co-ordinate employment opportunities for low-income New Yorkers and prioritize NYCHA residents.

The legislation would also authorize the City to require a minimum ratio of apprentices when performing work on procurement contracts to expand the number of entry-level jobs as a result.

The current plan includes authorizing other city-affiliated entities, including Health + Hospitals, NYCDOE, NYC SCA, NYC EDC, Build NYC, and NYC IDA, to exercise the same policies.

“Today more than ever, the City needs to use its economic power to create good jobs for New Yorkers from our lowest income communities.  Working with Gary LaBarbera and the building and construction trades unions we have shown how to put the City’s capital dollars to work both to build our City and to provide good jobs.   Community Hiring State legislation will open the door to providing opportunities across all of the City’s spending – from technology to building services to healthcare,” said Amy A. Peterson, Director, Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development.


Carlo A. Scissura, Esq, President & CEO, New York Building Congress, said, “The economic impacts of COVID-19 will be felt citywide long after a vaccine is widely available, but steps like this announcement of the new community hiring economic justice plan are exactly what we need to ensure people can get back to work.

“The Building Congress is proud to be a partner in this effort as the building industry is a leading economic driver in helping low-income New Yorkers reach middle-class stability to support their families. I applaud the Mayor and Building and Construction Trades Council and its President Gary LaBarbera for coming to this agreement on the new PLAs.  Today’s announcement will be felt immediately by those who have been most heavily impacted financially by the pandemic,”

The effort is being supported by The Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills, Nontraditional Employment for Women, Helmets to Hardhats, Pathways to Apprenticeship and SEIU 32BJ whos president, Kyle Bragg said, “The city’s low-income communities, among the hardest hit by COVID-19, need good jobs more than ever, and should benefit from the opportunities created by our public spending.

“Through its contracts, New York City creates thousands of family-sustaining building service jobs with good wages, affordable family healthcare, and other important benefits. By making these jobs available to the economically vulnerable New Yorkers who need them most, this bill is an important step to improve economic equity in our city.”

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director at ALIGN, added, “The Covid-19 pandemic not only revealed our city’s vulnerability in the face of a crisis, but it also demonstrated how inaction around solving economic disparities in our city could jeopardize our collective future. A plan to ensure that low-income communities of color have access to career union jobs during the current economic crisis is a step in the right direction.”

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