In response to Gary LaBarbera in AMNY August 3, 2023 – “To close racial wealth gaps, continue to expand prevailing wage”

In AMNY’s op-ed column, August 3rd, “To close racial wealth gaps, continue to expand prevailing wage” Mr. LaBarbera proposes an interesting proposal. But what he failed to tell you is he and others like to do the exact opposite by forcing Project Labor Agreements (PLA) on prevailing wage projects. A PLA is a political tool used to constrict opportunity in the construction industry and widens wealth gaps in New York.

As we can clearly see from turnstile data collected from more than 82 merit / open-shop major projects across the five boroughs, 87% of the non-union workforce are workers of color ethnic minority groups. That’s 74,000 workers from New York’s five boroughs .These are workers who are never allowed to get near a union PLA-driven project. So proposing to expand this exclusionary practice will only build a taller wall between New York City public projects and black, Hispanic, and other minority group workers who live right here in New York City.

Everyone can debate whether or not prevailing wage is the right vehicle to pull people out of poverty. It’s certainly a piece of the equation. But what’s clearly a major impediment to the people we represent are PLA’s. It’s time for all of our elected officials, Democrat and Republican alike, to drop the pretense around PLA’s and walk away. Let every contractor, and thus all workers, regardless of affiliation, bid on prevailing rate work. Let the best bid win!

– Construction Workforce Project

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