Good de­vel­op­ment in­cludes meet­ing work­ers’ needs

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - By Sam Cap­i­tano Sam Cap­i­tano is busi­ness man­ager for La­bor­ers Lo­cal 210 in Buf­falo.

New York’s work­ing class can­not thrive when pub­lic sub­si­dies for de­vel­op­ers don’t come with pub­lic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Gov. An­drew M. Cuomo’s in­clu­sion of pre­vail­ing wage re­quire­ments on sub­si­dized projects in his bud­get ad­dress shows he un­der­stands that suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ment is both prof­itable and re­spon­si­ble. Meet­ing work­ers’ needs ul­ti­mately ben­e­fits de­vel­op­ers, tax­pay­ers and the state’s econ­omy. That’s why Al­bany must pass pub­lic works leg­is­la­tion be­fore April 1.

Cer­tain busi­ness groups say pub­lic works should pro­ceed with­out ac­count­abil­ity to the tax­pay­ers that sub­si­dize these projects or the work­ers on these sites daily. In a re­cent Buf­falo News re­cent ar­ti­cle, “Busi­ness groups say Cuomo’s pre­vail­ing wage plan a ‘death sen­tence’ for de­vel­op­ment”, Un­shackle Up­state is quoted stat­ing that ex­pand­ing pre­vail­ing wage re­quire­ments would “se­verely weaken our econ­omy and hurt tax­pay­ers,” by in­creas­ing con­struc­tion costs, declar­ing such stan­dards for work­ers “a death sen­tence for up­state eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.”

While phrases like “death sen­tence for up­state eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment” at­tract at­ten­tion, they do not re­flect re­al­ity. Pre­vail­ing wage re­quire­ments and mod­ern­ized pub­lic works leg­is­la­tion would ac­tu­ally boost the state’s econ­omy, gen­er­at­ing $3.5 mil­lion to $6.9 mil­lion in an­nual sales tax rev­enue. This ad­di­tional rev­enue could fund fur­ther re­spon­si­ble de­vel­op­ment in­stead of stock­pil­ing into de­vel­op­ers’ back pock­ets.

Mis­in­formed nar­ra­tives re­flect a sim­plis­tic un­der­stand­ing of what makes de­vel­op­ment suc­cess­ful. Suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ment projects are re­spon­si­ble projects that es­tab­lish stan­dards of ac­count­abil­ity for pay­ing work­ers fair, liv­able wages and ef­fi­ciently uti­liz­ing sub­si­dies to cre­ate sta­ble job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Buf­falo La­bor­ers’ Lo­cal 210, the union I rep­re­sent, ex­em­pli­fies the pos­i­tive out­comes that re­sult from fair re­la­tion­ships be­tween work­ers and de­vel­op­ers. Our mem­bers earn fam­ily­sus­tain­ing wages, re­ceive good health care cov­er­age and ben­e­fits, and are able to work and re­tire with dig­nity. They don’t have to choose which monthly bills to pay or fear be bankrupted by one ex­pen­sive hospi­tal visit. Thanks to this sta­bil­ity, our mem­bers have helped suc­cess­fully com­plete nearly all ma­jor con­struc­tion projects in Erie County, on-time and un­der bud­get.

The ex­panded pre­vail­ing wage re­quire­ments Cuomo pro­posed would be a pos­i­tive force for de­vel­op­ment in New York. Now, it is up to Al­bany to pass pub­lic works leg­is­la­tion be­fore April 1. New York has the op­por­tu­nity to close the loop­holes that en­able de­vel­op­ers to de­prive work­ers and cheat tax­pay­ers.

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