De Blasio inks bill expanding prevailing wages in New York City

Doormen James Taylor (l) and Billy Laburta (r) hold the door at City Hall after getting their bill signed by the mayor. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Mayor Bill de Blasio penned his signature Wednesday to a bill designed to expand prevailing wage guarantees to building service workers in New York City financed projects.

The bill, Intro 1321-A, sponsored by Councilman Rafael Espinal of Brooklyn, provides a “prevailing wage” for building service workers and reflects the pay and benefits paid by the majority of private employers. It also requires such workers to receive benefits like health insurance, retirement accounts and paid time off. 

Since 2012, prevailing wages were required for building service employees in most developments where a private developer received at least $1,000,000 in discretionary financial assistance from the City. That law exempted all affordable housing projects from the wage standard.

The bill helps workers to afford to both work and live in the city, de Blasio said.

Bill Laburta and James Taylor, both doormen and present at the City Hall bill signing ceremony, said they needed to make enough money so they can live in the city where they work.

“I’m feeling great,” roared Taylor as they exited City Hall. “Now we can sustain our selves and raise our family in the city we live in. This is a great day.”

De Blasio had union members of Service Employees International Union and their leaders join in the bill signing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the prevailing wage bill into law in the Blue Room at City Hall this morning with union members and city council sponsors at his side. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“From keeping the heat on to keeping our families safe, New Yorkers rely on building service workers,” de Blasio said. “This expansion of prevailing wage will help create a fairer city by ensuring workers have the same security and peace of mind they bring to residents every day.”

The bill will cover additional developers and projects by removing the current exemption in the Prevailing Wage Law for affordable housing projects and not-for-profit developers of residential projects. Now, building service workers in most residential projects receiving financial assistance of at least $1,000,000 for new construction or preservation will be guaranteed the prevailing wage. The bill exempts smaller residential projects with fewer than 120 units, certain supportive housing projects, deeply affordable preservation projects and NYCHA projects financed through the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program.

Kyle Bragg, president of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service union in the country, called the bill, “a win for working people and for the communities they support.”

“This law proves New York’s commitment to addressing the good jobs and affordable housing crisis from multiple angles. 32BJ and our members are proud to support a law that will allow New York communities to rest assured that the jobs created in the development of 120,000 new affordable housing units will be good, family sustaining jobs. he said.

The law builds off reforms aimed at raising the wage and benefit floor for more New Yorkers and reducing income inequality including paid sick leave, fair work week, and raising the minimum wage.  

Mayor de Blasio shakes hands with Kyle Bragg, president of SEIU who pushed for the legislation. Next to them is Councilman Rafael Espinal. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Todd Maisel