City pen­sion funds have added role

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY GIN­GER ADAMS OTIS

A NEW POL­ICY ap­proved by city Con­troller Scott Stringer and the trustees of the city’s pen­sion funds seeks to lever­age the funds’ fi­nan­cial clout into bet­ter wages and pro­tec­tion for work­ers.

Un­der the “re­spon­si­ble con­trac­tor pol­icy,” the city pen­sion funds — worth more than $175 bil­lion — will re­quire that all con­trac­tors pay fair wages and ben­e­fits, as well as re­main neu­tral should em­ploy­ees seek to union­ize.

The rule will ap­ply wher­ever one of the pen­sion funds owns 50% or more of a real es­tate or in­fra­struc­ture as­set.

Con­trac­tors who hire work­ers for con­struc­tion, main­te­nance and build­ing ser­vices will have to sub­mit to care­ful scru­tiny and file re­ports to make sure they are in com­pli­ance, the Daily News has learned.

In cases where a pen­sion fund owns less than 50% of a real es­tate or in­fra­struc­ture as­set, the re­spon­si­ble con­trac­tor pol­icy will pro­vide “best prac­tices.”

Man­agers will be strongly en­cour­aged to seek out and get bids from con­trac­tors with a his­tory of pay­ing liv­ing wages and re­spect­ing work­ers, said Stringer.

“If we’re go­ing to have a thriv­ing econ­omy to­mor­row, then we need to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­cour­age fair wages and fair ben­e­fits to­day . . . . When work­ers are paid fair wages and ben­e­fits, our in­vest­ments are bet­ter po­si­tioned to cre­ate long term-value for our pen­sion ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” said Stringer.

He also said the pol­icy came at a vi­tal time.

“As Washington rolls back pro­tec­tions for work­ers, we’re stand­ing up for their rights — and se­cur­ing our pen­sion funds at the same time,” he said.

The city’s five pen­sion fund boards voted for the pol­icy dur­ing their spring meet­ings. It sets out the fol­low­ing re­quire­ments: l En­cour­age the use of con­trac­tors that are cer­ti­fied by the city’s Small Busi­ness Ser­vices Depart­ment as Mi­nor­ity/WomenOwned Busi­ness En­ter­prises. l Man­date con­trac­tors to main­tain a po­si­tion of neu­tral­ity if there is an at­tempt by a la­bor or­ga­ni­za­tion to union­ize work­ers at a site they man­age. l Hire con­trac­tors that pro­vide em­ployer-paid safety train­ing to their em­ploy­ees.

The pol­icy also says the city’s pen­sion funds can’t con­sider in­vest­ment pro­pos­als that have the po­ten­tial to elim­i­nate pub­lic-sec­tor jobs.

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