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Mayor de Blasio Announces Community Hiring Economic Justice Plan

August 13, 2020

Using the City’s purchasing power, Community Hiring will address economic disparities exacerbated by COVID-19 by connecting low-income New Yorkers and those in economically disadvantaged communities to good jobs and apprenticeship opportunities

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the Community Hiring economic justice plan, which includes new Project Labor Agreements with the building trades unions and a push for legislation in Albany to drive economic recovery in economically disadvantaged communities by utilizing the City’s purchasing power to connect New Yorkers to good jobs. This plan would provide an estimated 1,300 construction jobs for every $1 billion in construction for low-income communities leading to an estimated $1 billion in wages and benefits for target communities during the first full year of the program.

“During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we’re taking action to connect low-income New Yorkers to good jobs and even better futures,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’ll use the City’s purchasing power to address hiring disparities, expand opportunities and invest in our communities of color.  Working together, we can build a fair and equitable future for all New Yorkers.”

“As New York City recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, it is essential to address the inequities exposed by the pandemic, especially in communities deeply affected by structural racism.” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. "Our administration’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, which I co-chair, has taken actions that are already bringing tangible relief to these communities. We feel the urgency of this moment and praise this new collaboration. It is an important, necessary and significant step to creating more pathways to training, employment and economic opportunity.”

“In the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, our City is bringing economic opportunity to working people through our new labor agreement,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Co-Chair of the Racial Inclusion and Equity Taskforce. “But now we need the State of New York to act by passing Community Hiring legislation that would require contractors and businesses working with the City to hire New Yorkers from high poverty neighborhoods. Together with our partners in the State, we can show that City dollars can do more than get work done, it can help lift people out of poverty.”

“This is a truly historic and transformative moment for our city. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, New York City is committing its resources to an unprecedented and unparalleled investment in job creation, workforce development, and community hiring,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “For years, New York’s union building trades have prioritized expanding access, equity, and opportunity in neighborhoods across the city. We look forward to building on that commitment and working directly with the administration to ensure that all New Yorkers -- especially those in underserved communities -- have access not only to our exceptional union apprenticeship and direct-entry programs, but also to the tens of thousands of middle-class careers that this agreement will create. Only through investing in our city’s greatest asset, our working men and women, will we fuel New York’s economic recovery.”

“We're all aware how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted our minority communities and businesses,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “This new initiative will ensure that MWBEs and New Yorkers in our hardest hit communities have the opportunity to immediately connect to good jobs, in addition to gaining the valuable skills needed to ensure future opportunities. We will continue to fight for these groups to create a fairer city for all.”

The Project Labor Agreement

The City and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC) have negotiated new terms for the Citywide Renovation Project Labor Agreement, which covers renovation construction work on City-owned buildings, and a New Construction Project Labor Agreement which will cover selected future projects.  The Citywide Renovation PLA will serve as a template for other City PLAs. The PLA will create consistent work rules across construction projects, reduce administrative burden on construction agencies, and connect working people in neighborhoods across the city to union apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 

As part of the agreement:

  • Unions will prioritize the referral of workers from zip codes where at least 15% of the population lives below the federal poverty level and/or are NYCHA residents, aiming to reach an overall goal that at least 30 percent of all hours worked under PLA projects are logged by workers from these zip codes.
  • Unions will provide contractors with apprentices on City construction projects up to the maximum number allowed by the New York State Department of Labor when contractors request apprentices. An apprenticeship Memorandum of Understanding establishes, for the first time, specific annual goals for the number of slots provided for both apprentices and pre-apprentices for residents of disadvantaged communities and NYCHA housing.
  • This PLA increases opportunities and adds flexibility for MWBEs, allowing their workforce to gain valuable experience on city projects and build their companies, while continuing to source from within communities.

“The economic impacts of COVID-19 will be felt citywide long after a vaccine is widely available, but steps like this announcement of the new community hiring economic justice plan are exactly what we need to ensure people can get back to work. The Building Congress is proud to be a partner in this effort as the building industry is a leading economic driver in helping low-income New Yorkers reach middle-class stability to support their families. I applaud the Mayor and Building and Construction Trades Council and its President Gary LaBarbera for coming to this agreement on the new PLAs.  Today’s announcement will be felt immediately by those who have been most heavily impacted financially by the pandemic,” said Carlo A. Scissura, Esq, President & CEO, New York Building Congress.

“Thanks to the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, thousands of more New Yorkers will now have access to careers in the union building trades,” said Nicole Bertrán, Executive Vice President of The Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills, Inc. “Creating pathways to the middle-class for underserved communities has remained a priority of Construction Skills, and we look forward to working with the City and the NYC Building Trades to connect residents from all five boroughs to our pre-apprenticeship programs, as we continue to build opportunity in neighborhoods across the city.”

“Now more than ever, it is crucial we renew our efforts to creating economic opportunity for the most vulnerable communities as we build back New York City,” said Kathleen Culhane, President of Nontraditional Employment for Women. “We’re grateful for the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York in pioneering this historic commitment that invests in New York’s working people, and we look forward to working with the NYC Building Trades and our Direct Entry partners to make this commitment a success.”

“Helmets to Hardhats has proudly connected New York’s military veterans, reservists and men and women of the National Guard to middle-class careers in the union building trades,” said Anne Trenkle, New York State Director of Helmets to Hardhats. “As a direct result of Mayor de Blasio and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York’s transformative agreement reached today, New York’s military community will benefit from enhanced investment in apprenticeship and Direct Entry programs and access to the tens of thousands of union construction jobs that will be created over the next four years.”

“The commitment made today will create opportunities for countless New Yorkers,” said Melissa Shetler, Executive Director of Pathways to Apprenticeship. “Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to investing in working people and to the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York’s continued leadership in creating opportunity and middle-class careers in our five boroughs, Pathways to Apprenticeship looks forward to working in partnership with the City, the NYC Building Trades, and our Direct Entry partners to ensure that underserved communities have access to New York’s exceptional union apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.”

Community Hiring Legislation

To ensure that the City can continue to prioritize its investments in hardest hit communities, the Mayor is proposing legislation in Albany that would require contractors and businesses working with the City to hire low-income New Yorkers and New Yorkers from high poverty communities.

Community Hiring legislation will:

  • Establish the Office of Community Hiring and Workforce Development: The office will establish a community hiring program to provide employment opportunities for low-income New Yorkers and New Yorkers who live in economically disadvantaged regions.
  • Expand access for economically disadvantaged communities: Expands access to middle-class construction and building service jobs by prioritizing people from these communities and NYCHA residents.
  • Authorize the City to require a minimum ratio of apprentices: Allows the City to require that entities use a minimum ratio of apprentices when performing work on procurement contracts and expands entry-level jobs as a result. 
  • Enable the City to connect contractors with workforce development programs that will help them meet their hiring goals by referring qualified talent: Such workforce development programs could potentially include ones that typically serve NYCHA residents, veterans, people with disabilities, justice-involved individuals, cash assistance recipients, immigrants, and NYCDOE and CUNY graduates.
  • Authorize emergency rulemaking: Will enable low-income communities to see an immediate impact from the dollars the City is spending in FY21 for COVID response and recovery.
  • Authorize other city-affiliated entities, including Health + Hospitals, NYCDOE, NYC SCA, NYC EDC, Build NYC, and NYC IDA, to exercise such authorities, as well.

“Today more than ever, the City needs to use its economic power to create good jobs for New Yorkers from our lowest income communities.  Working with Gary LaBarbera and the building and construction trades unions we have shown how to put the City’s capital dollars to work both to build our City and to provide good jobs.   Community Hiring State legislation will open the door to providing opportunities across all of the City’s spending – from technology to building services to healthcare,” said Amy A. Peterson, Director, Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development.

“The city’s low-income communities, among the hardest hit by COVID-19, need good jobs more than ever, and should benefit from the opportunities created by our public spending. Through its contracts, New York City creates thousands of family-sustaining building service jobs with good wages, affordable family healthcare, and other important benefits. By making these jobs available to the economically vulnerable New Yorkers who need them most, this bill is an important step to improve economic equity in our city,” said SEIU 32BJ President Kyle Bragg.

“COVID-19 exposed and deepened the disparities in neighborhoods around the nation,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU, which represents 450,000 healthcare workers. “In New York City, too many Black, brown, and immigrant neighborhoods had the double attack of higher cases of virus and rampant unemployment that made it even more difficult for residents to slow the spread and flatten the curve. Through this initiative, the City is investing in developing these communities from the inside out – with local labor, benefitting local residents. We commend the City for helping to ensure that residents in some of our most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods have access to the good jobs, benefits, and economic tools they need to grow and thrive.”

"At a moment when so many have lost their jobs or a source of income, our communities need help connecting to employment and training opportunities to rejoin the workforce. Low income communities, particularly, are crying for help. This comprehensive proposal would deliver economic justice by helping workers connect with opportunities in construction, require businesses to hire workers from low-income communities, and establish an Office of Community Hiring and Workforce Development. I thank and applaud Mayor de Blasio's efforts to advance the economic recovery of our city's most needy communities," said Congressman Jose Serrano.

“Any initiative that helps put people to work, especially residents from low-income communities, is worth looking into particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic where so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs,” said State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. “Creating new construction projects will help get people working again and will improve New York’s infrastructure for the future. I look forward to examining the details of this plan with the Mayor’s administration and my colleagues in Albany.”

State Senator Robert Jackson said, "Community Hiring needs to be an essential part of our economic recovery from COVID-19, especially in hard-hit neighborhoods like the ones in Northern Manhattan that I represent. As Chair of the Cities Committee, I look forward to working with City Hall and my colleagues in Albany to craft responsible legislation that complements this exciting Project Labor Agreement and focuses our efforts on the areas of greatest need. Working together, we can build a just recovery from COVID-19."

“As a member of the New York State Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business, I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s initiative addressing economic disparities in economically disadvantaged communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. “The Project Labor Agreement’s commitment towards connecting workers falling below the federal poverty level and/or living in NYCHA housing to secure employment in union apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs will undoubtedly create job opportunities to many economically oppressed New Yorkers. Investing in local communities through training programs and local hirings will help many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers secure good jobs, help provide for their families, and retain community wealth to ensure further generational opportunities for future generations.”

"As we develop legislation to address the increased economic inequality throughout Queens, the announcement of the Mayor's community hiring economic justice plan is a leap towards closing the existing fiscal and employment disparities rate throughout the communities of New York State Senate District 13 and beyond," said New York State Senator Jessica Ramos. " New York's post-pandemic recovery plan must inclusively consider the progress of our city's most vulnerable groups impacted by COVID-19. With the collaboration of union partnerships and state agencies, the utilization of our local workforce will actively empower low-income and geographically disadvantaged New Yorkers through the expansion of 1,300 union construction and building service jobs to middle class families."

Senator James Sanders Jr. said, “Community hiring is an excellent way to ensure that low-income New Yorkers, who have suffered long term-unemployment and have traditionally been overlooked in many career fields as well as those who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus get back to work, by providing stable, good paying positions in the construction field. This plan will also help unions by supplying them with quality employees and revitalize disadvantaged communities by setting strong goals for work allotted to NYCHA residents and those living below the poverty line.” 

"Mayor de Blasio's economic justice plan will help communities like mine recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Communities of color that experienced health and economic disparities stemming from the virus will finally have a chance to bounce back through the Mayor's prioritization of workers from low-income ZIP codes. This initiative will also expand MWBE opportunities by increasing labor agreement flexibility and helping us meet workforce development goals by establishing an office dedicated to providing employment opportunities to low-income New Yorkers; requiring a minimum ratio of apprenticeships; and connecting contractors with programs that help them find qualified talent. I look forward to working with the Mayor on this initiative," said State Senator Luis Sepulveda.

"I'm encouraged by the effort to connect more low-income communities to jobs with good wages and benefits, and look forward to working with the administration to strengthen employment opportunities across the City and all of New York State,"said Assembly Member Tremaine Wright, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

"Mayor de Blasio's economic justice plan will help communities like mine recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Communities of color that experienced health and economic disparities stemming from the virus will finally have a chance to bounce back through the Mayor's prioritization of workers from low-income ZIP codes. This initiative will also expand MWBE opportunities by increasing labor agreement flexibility and helping us meet workforce development goals by establishing an office dedicated to providing employment opportunities to low-income New Yorkers; requiring a minimum ratio of apprenticeships; and connecting contractors with programs that help them find qualified talent. I look forward to working with the Mayor on this initiative,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte.

“The economic damage caused by COVID-19 requires a multi-pronged recovery plan that will help our hardest-hit communities by employing people in jobs that will succeed in rebuilding their lives and offering opportunities for the future,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee. “I’m pleased that NYCHA residents will be among those prioritized for construction jobs, and I look forward to seeing this initiative realized for the many thousands of New Yorkers who will benefit from it.”

"Rebuilding New York starts with supporting the low-income New Yorkers who have been excluded from good-paying construction jobs in their own communities. Working with the building trades unions to bring good jobs and apprenticeship opportunities to high-poverty neighborhoods is the cornerstone of this economic justice plan, and I applaud it wholeheartedly,” said Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus.

“My community has suffered at the hands of economic disinvestment and disempowerment for decades, which has only led to negative health outcomes that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Mayor de Blasio’s community hiring proposal is the path forward in ensuring that true economic justice is experienced in our communities and that all residents who need employment or job training can get it,” said Assembly Member Karines Reyes.

Council Member Francisco Moya said, “Working-class and low-income communities have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic — something my community knows better than most. This crisis, however, only exacerbated long-standing systemic fault lines in this city. My community knows that better than most as well. I’m heartened to see this effort to ensure that those who feel the struggle of living in a disadvantaged community most acutely will finally feel the benefit of investment in them. I’ve dedicated my life, from my time as an Assemblyman in Albany to today as a Council Member, to advocating for connecting local workers with good jobs that not only support New Yorkers but help strengthen entire communities. I applaud the Mayor and his administration for their willingness to listen to our calls at hearing after hearing on issues from neighborhood rezonings to Hire NYC and take meaningful steps to connect low-income and working-class New Yorkers with the good jobs and fair wages they deserve. This is a critical step toward getting New Yorkers back to work and our city’s recovery.”

Council Member Fernando Cabrera said, “I'm glad Mayor de Blasio is taking this important step, in partnership with the building trades unions.  The community hiring economic justice plan includes a critical component- training and union apprenticeship- which equips people with marketable skills and hands-on experience.  Getting people into good paying, union jobs will spur New York's economic recovery and prepare new workers for a solid future."

"As a result of this deadly pandemic, New York City now has a moral responsibility to offer additional economic opportunity to communities devastated by Covid-19," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Using our City’s immense purchasing power to connect the New Yorkers most in need with good-paying jobs is one very effective way to bring prosperity back to our great City. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for working on and being committed to this Community Hiring Economic Justice Plan, as part of the City's effort to address economic disparities exacerbated by Covid-19." 

"This is an excellent proposal to assist low income workers and the unemployed.  We are in dire need of jobs for our communities, especially those affected by COVID.  Not only will this employ individuals struggling to find jobs, but it provides a training for a trade that will be utilized for a long-term career.  Construction is a competitive trade therefore this plan would be beneficial for those looking to enter the field, that previously have not been given the opportunity. In addition, this proposal extends the opportunity to MWBEs, allowing them to gain this valuable experience and grow their companies, while using community resources. I support the Community Hiring Economic Justice Plan and look forward to seeing our unemployed and disadvantaged New Yorkers reap the benefits of this proposal,” said Council Member Andy King.

“I thank the Mayor for the work he is doing to ensure we are providing jobs to communities that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. These are truly unparalleled times as millions have lost their jobs and are struggling to stay afloat. We must prioritize the working class neighborhoods that tested positive at far higher rates than wealthier communities,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “I look forward to working alongside Mayor de Blasio, Labor unions, and my colleagues at the Council to continue providing employment opportunities for all New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19”
“Community Hiring is vitally important legislation that creates hiring practices which will benefit historically marginalized New Yorkers, specifically people of color, who have been more negatively impacted by the health and economic pains of COVID-19,” said Jose Ortiz, Jr., Executive Director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition.  “I am optimistic that this is the first of many necessary steps the Mayor and his administration will take to ensure that the City’s recovery is an equitable recovery for all.”

“Low-income communities of color in New York City have shouldered the brunt of the economic and public health fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York. “Mayor de Blasio’s proposed community hiring legislation helps ensure that taxpayer dollars are reinvested into high-quality training and job opportunities for low-income Black and Latinx New Yorkers who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. This effort represents an important step towards a more inclusive economic recovery that benefits all New Yorkers.”

”The Covid-19 pandemic not only revealed our city’s vulnerability in the face of a crisis, but it also demonstrated how inaction around solving economic disparities in our city could jeopardize our collective future. A plan to ensure that low-income communities of color have access to career union jobs during the current economic crisis is a step in the right direction," said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director at ALIGN. “We are excited about the partnership between the city and the building construction trade unions. New York City needs to be active in the recovery efforts to rebuild our economy. Community Hiring legislation would be an effective mechanism to reduce inequality, and investments in higher-wage jobs and greater economic opportunities should leave no one behind.” 

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