We don’t begrudge members of the building trades the right to earn a healthy living, but requiring affordable housing developers to pay these rates rather than still-respectable median wages ($82,000 for a bricklayer, $78,000 for a plumber) for the same essential functions will drive up the already exorbitant cost of producing housing, generate less of it, or both.
In the recently released NYS one-house budget bills, Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) are proposed at least a dozen times resulting in billions of dollars for special projects. Also included is an expansion of prevailing wage on projects typically not subject to it. Unfortunately, all to the detriment of MWBE companies and workers of color.
PLAs cannot help but make projects cost more, simply because they limit competition at bid time. In addition, they often promise to “save money” on the very backs of employees by cutting labor rates and various benefits required by the New York State Department of Labor.