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The answer must come from what has always worked in times of economic crisis: a mutual commitment by government, union leaders and industry to provide opportunities for workers. Generations of New Yorkers have moved from poverty to middle class working for the city and for the city vendors. This is especially true when it comes to the construction industry, where city contracts have historically created new job opportunities and in doing so have built the country’s largest city from scratch.
As New York City recovers from this crisis, we are ready to start over. The City is now proposing to incorporate into almost every contract – from paper and pencils to software and medical equipment to buildings and ferries – targets for vendors to hire low-income people or people from low-income neighborhoods. and public housing.
It is not an ideological chimera. Indeed, this proposal is based on the historical employment contract of the project, which was negotiated between the Building Trades Council and the City of New York and already establishes certain elements of this proposal in the construction sector.
We are now proposing to extend this model to a much wider range of contracts beyond the work we have done in the construction industry.
This proposal will transform our city. Estimates show that 40,000 jobs would be reserved each year for low-income people and residents of low-income neighborhoods and social housing. Taxpayer money will be used to help families and neighborhoods emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.
The best anti-poverty agenda is a good job, and this proposal, which requires approval from the state legislature, will turn the billions of dollars the city spends each year into a job-creating machine for the poor and people in disadvantaged areas. The COVID crisis has challenged us in every way imaginable. But we will come back stronger if we strive to make our economy fairer and more inclusive for workers.
J. Phillip Thompson is Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Gary LaBarbera is President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York