Across New York City, affordable housing must be built in far greater quantities and as quickly as possible. Public funds and other forms of government subsidies are necessary to get this new affordable housing built. All too often, low-road contractors prey on economically disadvantaged workers including immigrants and women, especially those who are formerly incarcerated individuals and undocumented immigrants. New Yorkers with either criminal records or lack of work authorization are especially vulnerable to exploitative and unjust treatment on the job.
Formerly incarcerated construction workers must “show evidence of gainful employment” as a condition of their parole. Undocumented construction workers risk detention and deportation if their lack of legal status is revealed, and they typically have no access to benefits like unemployment and health insurance.
These New Yorkers, who are predominantly of color, are forced to accept poverty-wages, lack of benefits, and dangerous conditions if they want to work. On affordable housing developments, this coerced labor of economically disadvantaged workers is subsidized with taxpayer money.
Lack of wage and benefit standards in subsidized development contributes to the devaluation of economically disadvantaged workers including justice affected people, immigrants and women workers; effectively depleting wealth from these communities.
The Construction Justice Act (CJA) creates workforce development opportunities for the most vulnerable construction workers in New York City. CJA establishes community hire goals and a just wage and benefit floor on subsidized affordable housing. CJA is designed so that no worker is excluded from its benefits, regardless of their incarceration histories, immigration status or gender.
WHAT THE CONSTRUCTION ACT DOES
Sets ambitious community hire goals for those most impacted by low wage construction work including economically disadvantaged communities, justice-affected people, and women
Raises worker wages by setting a just wage on subsidized housing
Ensures essential, employer-paid benefits are a standard practice on publicly financed housing
Construction Justice NYC is a grassroots coalition of labor unions and community-based organizations. We’re committed to ending the exploitation and unjust treatment of New Yorkers employed in the construction industry. We’re fighting for construction justice in every community across New York City where new affordable housing will be built. We’re organizing and mobilizing to win passage of the Construction Justice Act (CJA) in the New York City Council. This legislation establishes community hire goals and a just wage and benefit floor on affordable housing projects subsidized with taxpayer dollars. It is designed to ensure that all construction workers, regardless of incarceration histories or immigration status, are able to earn just wages and benefits while building housing the city desperately needs.
Construction Justice NYC is led by Laborers’ Local 79, the Mason Tenders’ District Council of New York, and partner organizations. We are particularly focused on improving the lives of economically disadvantaged workers including justice affected people, immigrants and women construction workers, especially those who are formerly incarcerated and undocumented immigrants. Construction is one of the few industries where these New Yorkers are able to find and maintain employment. But too often it comes at a cost to them, their families, and their communities: incarceration histories and immigration status are often used against economically disadvantaged workers. They are forced to accept poverty wages, lack of benefits, and dangerous conditions, or face reimprisonment and deportation. It’s an unjust choice no one should have to make.
This coerced labor of economically disadvantaged workers including justice affected people, immigrants and women New Yorkers is the dirty secret of much nonunion construction. It’s why there is still a lack of just wage and benefit standards on many development projects today, including those subsidized with taxpayer dollars.