Building Trades

Will Upzoning Displace Workfolk?

April 2, 2015
By Marc Bussanich 

New York, NY—The building trades rallied outside City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to express their concerns that it may. 

Community groups joined them and elected officials including Public Advocate Letitia James, who said that the city’s ambitious affordable housing plans are both an opportunity and a challenge.

“The city is embarking on an ambitious five-borough rezoning plan—from East New York to the South Bronx; from Long Island City and East Harlem to the north shore of Staten Island—we thank the mayor for making affordable housing a priority because we know that a lot of New York City residents are being priced out of the City. But we need good jobs. And this plan has never been more necessary, as over half of New York City spends more than 30 percent of their income on rent,” said James.   

She too expressed her concerns about the upzoning of the aforementioned neighborhoods.

“We need to make sure that as we rezone whole communities we are not giving unscrupulous developers sweetheart deals that let them exploit workers and New York City taxpayers. If developers want to do business in our city, they’re going to have to promise good jobs with strict safety standards and housing that we can afford,” James said.

The rally, organized by Build Up NYC, a coalition of the building trades, building service workers represented by 32BJ SEIU and the New York Hotel Trades Council, kicked off the “Zone In On Good Jobs” campaign to put pressure on the de Blasio administration to create good jobs, provide a career path for residents in the communities designated for upzoning, ensure accountability of public subsidies and benefits and promote sustainable development.

In the accompanying video, we interviewed Daniel Walcott, political director for the New York City District Council of Carpenters, and asked him what most concerns the building trades and Build Up NYC about the mayor’s affordable housing plan.

Dan Walcott, Carpenters’ Political Director

“I don’t know it’s so much his plan. I know he has a plan and it’s going to come together. We just want to be a part of it. What we don’t want is labor fraud, which the [New York County District Attorney’s Office] just unveiled in a report last month of just how much corruption there is on these construction sites where [contractors] aren’t paying taxes and workers compensation and [as a result] the City is losing tax revenue,” said Walcott.

@marcbuss marc@laborpress.org

April 2, 2015

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