Over 20 members of the Urban Jobs Task Force testified at the monthly Syracuse Industrial Development Agency meeting on June 17th and according to the Syracuse.com article on the meeting
“beseeched the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, one after another, to impose stricter local hiring requirements on tax-subsidized projects including COR Development Co.’s development of the Inner Harbor.
Unfortunately, the SIDA Board unanimously, AND WITHOUT COMMENT, approved the tax breaks proposed for the entire first phase of the project–a hotel to be built by the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Corp. and planned, yet not detailed luxury apartments. The tax breaks were an exemption from paying the County’s mortgage recording tax and a break on sales tax for materials purchased during construction.
The loss of both of these forms of tax revenue from the project have real-world implications for the residents of our city. Ten percent of the annual budget for Centro, the area’s mass transit system comes from the mortgage recording tax. In addition, the city’s share of area sales tax has become the largest portion of locally-raised revenue for financing city services–police, fire, DPW, Parks etc.
Interesting report just issued by Good Jobs First on the impact on employment in construction created by the project in St. Paul, Minnesota in restoring their old rail depot and the creation of a new rail line between St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Three key points
1. This mass transit construction project was able to create work for a wide variety of trades–electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, sheet metal workers, roofers, painters, sheet metal workers, elevator constructors, and insulators. On traditional road construction projects only the 3 traditional road-building crafts, carpenters, laborers and operating engineers, get much work.
2. 70 groups came together in a coalition called Hire Minnesota to pressure the Minnesota Department of transportation to set ambitious goals for worker hiring diversity–and those goals were exceeded. 18.9% of work hours were done by minority workers and 6.9% of work hours were completed by women.
3. Public and private investment in mass transit pays off. Federal, state and local grants helped make the project viable. Local foundations came together to fund organizing around the location of stops on the new rail line. The project’s genesis was the original federal stimulus program.
Check out the article on UJTF’s “Gaining Ground” film event held at Tucker Baptist Church in The Stand newspaper: http://mysouthsidestand.com/voices/urban-jobs-task-force-poses-the-question-what-if/
I rarely read the comments section of any of the news articles posted on the Syracuse.com website–the online outlet for the Syracuse Post Standard newspaper. Recently a friend pointed me in the direction of one comment in particular on a story about US Rep. Dan Maffei and his new small business advisory committee:
The Urban Jobs Task Force, one of the most virulent community agitator groups in CNY that has come out in opposition to the Inner Harbor project unless the developer caves into its threats. The political platform of this organization is taken directly from the Working Families Party (WFP), which is to the far left of the Democrat party . . . The Syracuse Alliance for the New Economy believes in setting “living wages” well above state and federal mandates and has repeatedly threatened developers to enact “Community Benefit Agreements” stipulating an unreasonably high percentage of jobs go to poor residents from certain groups that reside in designated census tracts.
Check out this in-depth look by Yes! magazine at the 20 year battle waged by the Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition to ensure that any development of the Kingsbridge Armory would benefit the residents of one of the poorest neighborhoods in N.Y.C.
And the Best news? The coalition has moved on to pursue city-wide legislation on development subsidies and living wages:
After the defeat of the Related shopping center, Ava Farkas, the former Coalition organizer, moved on to work for living-wage policies—not for developments in the Bronx, but for any development receiving public subsidies anywhere in New York City.
“It was the logical next step, to take the energy we’d unleashed and pass legislation so that neighborhoods don’t have to fight with every developer,” says Farkas. “We learned that although our organizing has been getting better and better, our membership base has been getting poorer and poorer. That’s because wealth is leaking out of the borough.”
In June of 2012, the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act passed. Under the terms of the legislation, any private developer accepting $1 million or more in subsidies must now pay employees a living wage of $10/hour with benefits, or $11.50 without. The Act was co-sponsored by Oliver Koppel, a Bronx Democrat, whose council district borders the armory.