Dear Governor Cuomo,

I am writing regarding your recent State of the State address, in which you laid out goals for the construction industry that focused solely on pro-union policies. As advocates for workers who do not happen to be part of a union, we must inform you that an exclusively pro-union agenda would harm thousands of locally based workers of color who now make up the dominant labor force in New York City’s construction industry. We urge you to recognize the reality of today’s diverse construction industry and broaden your focus by providing more resources to train, employ and protect New Yorkers of color, regardless of whether or not they are part of a union.

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 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.

It was disappointing to see a progressive and forward-thinking governor such as yourself ignore such a significant portion of the workforce in New York City’s construction industry. These are New Yorkers who work every day to build careers and raise families – just like any union member – and they deserve your acknowledgment and respect. They also need your continued support – just like any union member – as they move forward in the industry.

The 2019 legislative session presents a crucial opportunity for you and the State Legislature to step and support all construction workers by providing new funding and resources to support training programs and job-placement initiatives in the open shop. There is no reason why you cannot continue to support unions while also advancing this important effort to promote and sustain good jobs for thousands of locally based workers of color across New York City.

We appreciate your consideration and look forward to your response.


The Construction Workforce Project