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Cuomo Jabs de Blasio Over Prevailing Wage Cuts for NYC Construction Workers

Better days. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Better days. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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A war of words has erupted between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over the 421-a tax abatement program which expires this month.  During a recent trip to Albany, de Blasio announced that he would no longer be pushing prevailing wage requirements for developers who benefit from the 421-a program, a reversal that created immediate uproar in the city’s labor community. Governor Cuomo publicly blasted de Blasio’s new position, asking, “If government is giving subsidies to these rich real estate developers, why isn’t the government insisting on a fair wage for the workers on the projects?”

Cuomo later doubled down:

“The mayor negotiated a bill that many people criticized as a giveaway to wealthy landlords. The mayor’s bill is opposed by the entire labor movement, the AFL-CIO, as not only a giveaway to rich landlords, but they believe the mayor’s plan hurts the workers and doesn’t pay the workers a fair wage, what they call the prevailing wage.”

One of the only unions supporting de Blasio is the local arm of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), whose employees would still be paid prevailing wages while construction workers take a hit.

Cuomo has also been critical of de Blasio’s decision to usher in change just three before the legislative session ends.

In a television interview with WABC’s Diana Williams on Sunday, de Blasio said Cuomo was “not acting like a partner” and defended his wage reduction plans:

“To create affordable housing we need financing that actually works.  Prevailing wage in a very generalist way just simply doesn’t allow us to create the number of affordable units that we need to.”

The draft version of de Blasio’s 421-a plan was co-written with real estate interests, marking a surprisingly anti-union stance in what so far had been a union-friendly administration.


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