Op-Ed: Labor Leading the Future of New York in 2022

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Author: Joseph Geiger, Executive Secretary Treasurer, NYC District Council of Carpenters

It’s a new dawn for the Empire State. New Yorkers have welcomed Kathy Hochul as our first female Governor, Eric Adams as the 110th Mayor of New York City, and new leadership in the City Council. The last couple of years have been challenging as our state battled the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With new leadership at the helm, we have the opportunity to reverse some of these devastating economic impacts and build a better future for New York.

In a historic State of the State address, the Governor laid out bold plans that will put working men and women first. The New York City District Council of Carpenters were energized by the long overdue infrastructure investments that were at the heart of her speech. Like us, Governor Hochul understands the importance of ensuring that New York’s antiquated infrastructure is overhauled, repaired, and built for the 21st century. It’s the lifeblood of New York’s economy, creating thousands of good-paying union jobs for decades to come and building stronger communities.

Core initiatives, like the Interborough Express, resuming the Gateway Project, the 2nd Avenue Subway expansion, and the modernization of roads and bridges will reconnect historically disadvantaged communities while creating jobs when we need them most. In addition, New York City is receiving billions from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, $10.7 billion for the MTA, $2 billion for bridge and tunnel work, and $685 million for airports. Moreover, this past month Senator Chuck Schumer announced that the MTA will receive $6 billion in federal pandemic relief funds, the largest grant in the Federal Transit Administration’s history. With historic state and federal funding, now is our chance to chart a course of prosperity for future generations and position New York as a national leader in state-of-the-art infrastructure.

With a newfound investment in infrastructure, we must put the livelihoods of hardworking New Yorkers at the forefront. That’s why we applaud Governor Hochul’s plan to abolish the 421-a tax incentive program. The program is aimed at incentivizing affordable housing development. The $1.7 billion in property taxes that are forgiven annually are merely a giveaway to real estate developers, failing time and time again to make New York City more affordable.

Piling on to the program’s failure, developers taking advantage of the incentive offer low-wage jobs with no benefits. Public money can no longer subsidize exploitative jobs that barely pay workers enough to live in the city that they built from the ground up. Our union has been against the program since day one and applauds state leadership for finally taking action. The governor’s replacement program must focus on transparency and prevailing wage requirements to make New York a better place for all of us.

The NYC Carpenters Union looks forward to bringing this new era of New York to life, from Penn Station to the much-needed LaGuardia Airport redevelopment. We applaud the Governor’s commitment to investing in critical projects that create good-paying union jobs.

Here’s to a better future for New York, made by and for working people.