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Apr
2016
20

NY Gov. Cuomo Pledges Allegiance to Building Trades, Prevailing Wages in 421-a Fight

Cuomo NABTU

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Speaking at the North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU) legislative conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to stand with union labor and reject legislation that is unfair to workers.  His speech, ahead of one given by the NABTU’s endorsed presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, signalled his position on the ongoing battle to restructure New York City’s controversial 421-a tax abatement program.  

The program was put in place to provide tax breaks to New York City developers, in exchange for building affordable housing.  The program has been corrupted throughout its history by those seeking to abuse it for personal gain.  Last June the governor signed a 6-month extension with the stipulation that it would lapse if the Greater NYC Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) and the Real Estate Board of new York (REBNY) did not reach an agreement concerning the payment of prevailing wages on 421-a projects.  No agreement was reached, and the program was suspended with little hope of being taken up again soon.

Governor Cuomo spoke directly about 421-a in his remarks at the NABTU conference, accusing people of turning the failed negotiations and subsequent lapse of the program into a wedge issue about unions. According to Cuomo:

“There are forces that want that program to be open shop because if in New York State, which is a bastion of labor support, if you can get a New York City construction project that is government-subsidized to be open shop, then you have really diminished labor.

And if you can do that in New York, it is a national statement that union labor is not what union labor once was. That’s what’s going on.”

Cuomo went on to reflect on the nationwide war against unions and its many theatres.  He used his opportunity to speak to the NABTU to ensure delegates that New York would still be a bastion of union labor:

“What’s happening in this country is an an anti-union movement-sometimes loud, sometime quietly, but it’s always there.  It’s attacking the public sector unions but it’s attacking the private sector unions even more. And they’re growing in strength. We have a tremendous battle in New York right now and it’s a battle.”

Gary LaBarbera, Greater NYC BCTC president, praised Cuomo for “standing up to developers by advocating for prevailing wages on projects financed by taxpayer dollars.” among other things:

Cuomo’s complete remarks were captured on video.

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