Dear Chair Crespo and Committee Members:

New York’s diverse communities of color have long lacked access to equal employment opportunities, but New York City’s building boom presents ample opportunity for all New Yorkers to gain access to meaningful education/training and employment. While traditional union models of hiring continue to present barriers to entry for minority workers, merit shop (also known as open shop) offers an inclusive hiring model, giving a chance to anyone willing to work hard. The vast majority of open shop workers today represent 70 percent of the city’s private construction workforce and are workers of color who actually reside in the City and the surrounding boroughs.

As advocates for underrepresented workers of color and multi-cultural communities across the region, the Construction Workforce Project, a 501©3 advocacy organization whose partners are community and faith-based groups among others, we must inform you of our concerns regarding the negative consequences of several bills currently in front of or soon to be delivered to the Senate Labor Committee.

These bills will have a detrimental impact on:

  • Black and Latino construction workers in the NYC industry;
  • MWBE contractors and their bonding capabilities;
  • Market rate and affordable housing especially in the NYC region; and
  • Equally important quality of life projects for all New York taxpayers.

City data shows that around 80 percent of private construction work in New York City is now being done by open shop workers – those who are not affiliated with a union. These projects employ a significant number of locally based workers of color, many of whom have gained jobs in the open shop industry after being shut out of opportunities to join a union. Industry surveys show that around three-quarters of open shop construction workers in New York City are Black or Latino, and around three-quarters of those workers also live in the five boroughs.

We welcome the opportunity to come to Albany and meet with all of you before any of these bills are moved through the committee. All facets of the industry should be considered and have the opportunity to participate in meaningful discussion about the adverse effects that such legislation will have on workers of color in our communities, workers who make up the dominant labor force in New York City’s construction industry.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.


The Construction Workforce Project