City pension funds have added role
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.