Council committee approves prevailing wage bill

by Janaki Chadha

November 13, 2019

A measure that would expand the prevailing wage mandate for building service workers was approved by the City Council’s labor committee today.

The bill would require developers of affordable housing and other nonprofit residential projects who receive at least $1 million in public subsidies to pay prevailing wages to doormen, building cleaners and similar workers.

The measure carves out smaller residential buildings, as well as some preservation and supportive housing projects. Affordable housing developers, however, continue to voice concerns with the bill and say the additional cost mandate could slow housing production.

Nonetheless, the bill — pushed by the influential building service workers’ union, 32BJ — has 41 sponsors and is expected to pass the full Council this week.

Council Member Daneek Miller defended the measure at a committee meeting today.

“I’ve read recently some of the critics that said that prevailing wage among service workers would undermine the affordable housing industry, and I would submit that they are not mutually exclusive, that we can provide dignity, respect and fair compensation for workers at the same time [as] ensuring that we continue to grow our affordable housing market,” he said.

A coalition of affordable housing groups called on the city last week to prepare a fiscal analysis of the bill’s impact to “ensure that we do not reduce the production of affordable housing and the depth of affordability.” They said the measure has thus far come with a “lack of financial planning.”

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