As the county’s largest and most influential economic development and advocacy organization, the Business Council of Westchester has created a coalition that is coordinating opposition to proposed state legislation that would jeopardize future plans for major new construction projects across Westchester.
The legislation, which is backed by construction trades unions, would require payment of Prevailing Wages on private construction projects receiving any form of state funding. The resulting increase in construction costs – estimated to be 30 to 40 percent – would make most major residential projects too expensive to build, causing a severe impact on the revitalization that has been taking place in Westchester’s urban centers.
The BCW’s Westchester Coalition to Save Smart Development includes more than 30 major developers and is backed by groups including the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce, the New Rochelle Downtown BID, the Yonkers Downtown BID, and the Building & Reality Institute of Westchester & the Mid-Hudson Region.
Among other actions, the group has had numerous meetings over the past five months with the Westchester Senate and Assembly delegation members, as well as with the Governor’s Office. The Coalition has also undertaken an outreach and education program, including running informational advertisements, to explain the consequences of imposing the Prevailing Wage, which is paid to unions working on state-funded projects such as highways and bridges.
The Coalition emphasizes that without state economic incentives, such as through Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), most privately built downtown projects would not be economically viable. The increased cost of paying Prevailing Wages would negate the benefits of the incentives. By driving up labor costs, most major projects would not go forward, resulting in a catastrophic impact on job creation and economic development. For example, a laborer would be paid $100 per hour and employee benefits would be covered 100% by the developer.
“Westchester’s urban centers are undergoing a renaissance” said Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the BCW. “New residential projects are transforming Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and White Plains, bringing new residents, new jobs and new opportunities. But the proposed Prevailing Wage legislation in Albany would radically increase the cost of private construction projects and would bring all of this to a crashing halt. Simply put, imposing Prevailing Wage would drastically inflate the cost of construction projects and deal a crippling blow to private development in Westchester.”
“We can’t afford to make New York any less competitive,” Gordon added. “Join us in support of job creation, community investment and economic development by saying no to Prevailing Wage Legislation.”
The future of the legislation is expected to be decided as the session draws to a close. “While the outcome is still uncertain, we have stated our case and created an opportunity for our voices to be heard,” said John Ravitz, executive vice president of the BCW.
Contact your New York State Legislators today to voice your opposition to Prevailing Wage. To learn more, please contact John Ravitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 948-2110.