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Know Your Rights
Source: 32BJ SEIU News
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Council Introduces Bill to Ensure Good Jobs at City-funded Developments and Worksites


NY – Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito today introduced a bill that would
guarantee good wages, health care and other benefits to building service
workers who work at new, city-subsidized developments and newly-leased city
work sites.

Members Fernando Cabrera (Bronx), Julissa Ferraras (Queens) and Brad Lander (Brooklyn) joined Mark-Viverito, members of 32BJ,
Make the Road New York and the National Employment Law Project in calling prompt
hearings and passage of the bill.

“Too many
New Yorkers are working hard but struggling to get by,” said Council Member
Mark-Viverito. “The City Council must ensure that tax dollars don’t fuel the
cycle that keeps working families in poverty. This legislation seeks to tie
city subsidies to good, quality jobs that will help New York City’s families move into the middle

The bill
would ensure these jobs, created with the help of city tax-dollars, provide the
same wages and benefits as other building service jobs in New York. Without an economic development
policy focused on creating good jobs, tax-dollars can be used to create jobs
for office cleaners, residential building workers and security officers that
pay as little as minimum wage.

“There’s no
reason why workers at city-funded sites should get paid less than workers at
other buildings,” said Mike Fishman, President of 32BJ—the union representing
70,000 building service workers in New
York City
. “Government should not be in the business
of creating poverty jobs.”

Over the
past few years, the City has approved large-scale re-development plans that
will transform neighborhoods without always guaranteeing the new jobs created
will allow local workers to support their families. In Jamaica,
Queens, one of the city’s largest redevelopment projects, hundreds of jobs,
including more than 300 building service jobs, are expected to be created
without any guarantees for the types of wages and benefits they will provide.

“Without a
city-wide policy, we miss opportunities to create good jobs for New Yorkers,”
said Fishman. “We shouldn’t be subsidizing developments that leave working
families in the cold.”

“We must
take concrete steps to eliminate the government’s role in promoting poverty,”
said Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Bronx District. “We can create good jobs and
develop communities at the same time.”

“Minimum wage jobs pay less than the
minimum required to support a family in New
York City
said Ana Maria Archila, Make the Road New York’s Co-Executive Director.“New Yorkers desperately need good jobs, and
the City Council should do everything it can to bring good jobs to the City.”

The number
of New Yorkers working but still living in poverty has been on the rise – a 75
percent increase between 1990 and 2005.Until recently, some of these workers were City-contracted security
officers who were earning just above the minimum wage and had no access to
affordable health care. A new union contract and an increase in the prevailing
wage have helped bring many of these workers, whose wages are indirectly paid
by city tax dollars through contractors, out of poverty.

“I work
hard to help keep the City running,” said Benita Mays, single-mother and
security officer at the Brooklyn
Municipal Building
.“Now I can actually raise my family on my

governments adopt prevailing wage requirements, they help enforce the rates
established in the private-sector and fight poverty at the same time,” said
Paul Sonn, NELP Legal Co-Director. “This bill is a win for working New Yorkers
and for business.”

With more
than 120,000 members, including 70,000 in New
York City
, 32BJ is the largest property services union
in the country.