Our Letter to Governor: PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS HURT MINORITY WORKERS AND MWBE’S REMOVE THEM FROM THE STATE BUDGET
March 30, 2022
The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
State Capitol Building
Albany, New York 12224
Re: 2022 Proposed Budget – Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s)
Dear Governor Hochul,
The Construction Workforce Project (“CWP”) is a 501©3 advocacy organization whose partners are community and faith-based groups, public housing associations, industry leaders, and other local stakeholders. We are driven to educate New York’s elected officials and other stakeholders on the benefits of the open/merit shop work for historically underrepresented multi-cultural communities in our region.
Open/merit shop workers are the silent majority in New York’s construction workforce. In fact, the majority of major private projects in New York City are now being built by these open/merit shop workers. As the use of open/merit shop workers expands, more New Yorkers of color are working than ever before. Your inclusion of numerous Project Labor Agreement (PLA’s) mandates in your proposed 2022 budget puts these workers at risk.
Our most recent turnstile data, from 82 major projects across the 5 boroughs, reflects that of the 74,000 workers (field and office) 87% are minority workers with the greatest percentage being Hispanic and Black, 82% live in the 5 boroughs of New York City, with 95% coming from New York. These are the people who will be hurt by including PLA’s on billions of dollars of projects in the state budget.
The 2021 McGowan report states that “government-mandated PLA’s harm the economic welfare of non-union construction employees, impose significant costs and liability exposure on non-union contractors and discourage competition for qualified contractors”. “Non-union employees who work under government-mandated PLA’s lose wages and benefits after they pay into union pension funds and often receive no benefits due to union membership and vesting requirements”. The report found that “non-union employees lose an estimated 34% of their total compensation package when working on a PLA project. These loss of wages and benefits should be considered wage theft”.
In their February 2022 letter to President Biden, a diverse coalition representing tens of thousands of companies and millions of skilled employees in the United States today, including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, states “PLA’s unfairly discourage competition from quality non-union contractors and their employees, who comprise more than 80% of the private U.S. construction industry workforce……and PLA’s needlessly increase costs for tax payers”.
The State of New York’s most recent MWBE Disparity Study states “Black-owned businesses represent 10.82% of the available construction-related services subcontractors and received 3.14% of the construction-relates services subcontract dollars. Hispanic-owned businesses represent 8.18% of the available construction-related services subcontractors and received 4.74% of the construction-related services subcontract dollars. This underutilization is statistically significant”.
It is disappointing to see a forward-thinking governor such as yourself ignore such a significant portion of the workforce in New York’s construction industry. These are New Yorkers who work every day to build careers and raise families, and they deserve your acknowledgment. They also need your continued support as they move forward in the minority dominated non-union New York construction industry.
Construction Workforce Project
cc: Honorable Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin
Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins, NYS Senate President Pro Tempore and Majority Leader
Honorable Carl Heastie, NYS Assembly Speaker and Majority Leader
Honorable Robert G. Ortt, NYS Senate Minority Leader
Honorable William A. Barclay, NYS Assembly Minority Leader
Honorable Eric Adams, Mayor of NYC
Honorable Adrienne E. Adams, NYC Council Speaker
All members of the NYS Senate
All members of the NYS Assembly
All members of the NYC Council