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Christina Sonsire

Prevailing wage for projects that receive $750k or more in taxpayer-funded subsidies

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Chris    951

I dont known what the exact amounts of "prevailing wage" are for a given job, but when it comes to numbers, my brain automatically starts shutting down. So it's probably just as well. 

What I don't like is the government taking money from municipalities and then saying they will "give" it back, but only if you play by their rules. 

If Group A wants to do the same quality job but less costly than Group B, I say let them. 

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This is about the wages private developers  pay to their workers.

When a developer contracts with a municipality, the developer must pay the worker a prevailing wage, i.e. a rate determined by the NY Comptroller’s Office that varies by region. The rationale is that developers should not profit from government work without paying their workers fairly.

Prevailing wage law does not, however, apply to purely private development projects. I agree that it should not based on free market economic principles.

However, the new law that was proposed but died in the NY Legislature called for private developers to be required to pay their workers a prevailing wage whenever the developer receives $750,000 or more on taxpayer-funded incentives such as tax abatements, PILOTs, etc. The rationale here is that these are not purely private transactions but rather quasi-public due to government intervention.

Moss and Dave Manchester jointly presented a measure opposing the bill. To me the bill seems like a good idea, or at least one that deserves some critical analysis.

I am curious to know what others think.

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Chris    951
3 minutes ago, Christina Sonsire said:

This is about the wages private developers  pay to their workers.

When a developer contracts with a municipality, the developer must pay the worker a prevailing wage, i.e. a rate determined by the NY Comptroller’s Office that varies by region. The rationale is that developers should not profit from government work without paying their workers fairly.

Prevailing wage law does not, however, apply to purely private development projects. I agree that it should not based on free market economic principles.

However, the new law that was proposed but died in the NY Legislature called for private developers to be required to pay their workers a prevailing wage whenever the developer receives $750,000 or more on taxpayer-funded incentives such as tax abatements, PILOTs, etc. The rationale here is that these are not purely private transactions but rather quasi-public due to government intervention.

Moss and Dave Manchester jointly presented a measure opposing the bill. To me the bill seems like a good idea, or at least one that deserves some critical analysis.

I am curious to know what others think.

Ok, I got confused. 

I'll leave this to the others, because this is exactly the kinda stuff that'd have me trying to open an artery in meetings. 

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KReed    442

In the limited understanding I’ve gleaned on other “prevailing wage” situations, my gut instinct is that it doesn’t accomplish much more than “virtue signaling” by the elected officials that implemented it.

I’m not saying that is necessarily the case here with you supporting it being extended to quasi-public developers or the $750,000 threshold….but rather the existence of “prevailing wage” policies altogether.

It seems like I recall Eldridge Park’s revitalization being delayed based on a prevailing wage objection. I don’t even remember how that played out….it seemed like volunteer workers were part of the equation.  The whole thing seemed foolish and detrimental to the good work being accomplished.

More recently, I heard directly from a couple of part-time temp workers that do light maintenance for OGS state office buildings and DOT sites (emptying trash cans, vacuuming offices and collecting litter at rest areas).  These are often retirees or developmentally delayed folks that were content with the hours and compensation for what they felt was a satisfying opportunity to be productive. (Much of the work was previously performed as community service by Monterey inmates before it closed – but that’s a whole different travesty)

Prevailing wage laws determined their hourly wages needed to be increased. However,  without increased budgets to the agencies that contracted them – they simply worked fewer hours each week and received the same pay. Meanwhile the amount of work (trash and litter, etc) remained the same; they just had fewer hours to get it done. No one benefitted from the change, except perhaps the lawmakers that could claim they facilitated a “pay increase” for these people.

I’d be concerned that expanding this law (like minimum wage increases) could very well result in fewer hours and/or fewer people receiving paychecks (as it did with the workers I mentioned above getting a “pay increase” at their unskilled temp jobs).

 

For the record, I do think it is absolutely ridiculous for the Legislature to entertain passing a local law to counter a non-existent state law.

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KarenK    79

Having been married to Union guys I'm quite familiar with prevailing wage.  

When it come to actual work on state roads, bridges, highways etc I don't have a large issue with it.  Generally those are union contracts and those workers are incredibly well trained and certified for that kind of work.  Prevailing wage in that scenario keeps general contractors from hiring subs or employees without the training required to do the job right.  These are public roads and public property.  Do you want the bridge repaired by a laborer they hired at "People Ready" for the day?  Not really.  The Unions seem to dictate prevailing wage though.

That's really the only situation though.  As for private use, whether funded by the state (taxpayers) or otherwise then no. Its a private project.  If you want to hand them taxpayer money to fund projects (which I also don't always agree with but that's another story) then hand it to them.  

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KRSullivan    122

Prevailing wages will just raise the cost of projects.  I just watched a video on this about how in NYC is costs 3 billion dollars for 1 mile of subway line versus 300-450 million in other countries.  In a fully funded public project do what you want, but in a project that is only partially funded by the govt. Let the developers hire who they want. As long as they hire safe workers who know what they are doing and agree to the rates. 

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Adam    19

Honestly, knowing only the barest of information on the topic; i for one want as much value for my tax monies as possible, just because one is a member of a union does not automatically grant them the status of highest trained/most knowledgeable. It is further complicated when it is the Unions that set the prevailing wage amount; kind of like handing a blank check to a shopaholic, multiply that by the fact that a good amount of union fees are directed to political causes/campaigns that will further their own agenda and income....there has to be some sort of check on it because as Kevin/KR both mentioned there are many folks willing to do the work priced out of it as well as the amount of projects is limited by available funds.

 

In short fair pay for quality work is needed, but i do not agree with Unions dictating it

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Johnny Go    167

"Prevailing wage" is nothing more than a taxpayer shakedown to ensure the unions are able to wet their beak.  It keeps market forces out of the equation by forcing private sector contractors to pay the same wages as what unions have negotiated from politicians, using tax payer money to pay off those politicians..

A fair wage is what the market will bear.  If someone has talent, skills or certifications that increases their value, and those attributes are needed, they will get what is fair.  If a contractor doesn't pay them a fair wage, then they will leave to work for another contractor.  Skilled labor is extremely valuable and in limited supply in this world where everyone goes to college.  That is how the free market works.  It might have its flaws, but it is not nearly as flawed as the quid pro quo prevailing wage policies.

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