Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics



  • Stopping the Crime Wave in the Construction Industry

    Construction workers need protection (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)

    There’s a crime wave affecting hard-working New Yorkers that you won’t hear about on cable news. Construction contractors are using underhanded schemes, shell companies, shady bank accounts, and check-cashing stores to avoid paying employees the full pay they have earned. In New York, that adds up to...

  • Promising Projects Faster and Cheaper, Adams Administration Pursues Capital Construction Reforms

    Mayor Adams hails housing construction (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    New York City’s infrastructure construction process is broken and Mayor Eric Adams wants to fix it. 

    The city’s capital budget funds infrastructure projects across the five boroughs, including new construction, maintenance, and repairs to everything from parks, schools, hospitals, and libraries to mass transit, sewers, courts, jails, police precincts, and more. But as New York City is in desperate need of sweeping infrastructure upgrades,

  • Max Politics Podcast: Why It Costs New York So Much More to Expand the Subway, with Eric Goldwyn

    The 2nd Avenue Subway under construction (photo: Governor's Office)

    February 8, 2023 - Max Politics Podcast: Why It Costs New York So Much More to Expand the Subway, with Eric Goldwyn

    Eric Goldwyn, a professor who has led a team at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management, joined the show to discuss his team's research on building transit and why it costs so much more in New York than other places around the world. ...

  • The Future of New York's Middle Class is Built on Investment in Growth and Union Labor

    On the construction site (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    While it’s no secret that the pandemic and looming recession have taken a toll on all New Yorkers, they have been particularly detrimental to low- and middle-income communities, as they’ve only exacerbated theongoing shrinking of the middle class and troubling

  • New York Must Amend Carlos’ Law Before the Governor Signs It

    Scaffolding (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)

    The cost to build in New York can be10 times more expensive than in neighboring New Jersey or Connecticut. It’s a reality that’s hurting our economy, especially Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in the construction sector, at the worst possible time.

    State Yet to Meet Mandate to Publish Registry of Construction Worker Fatalities

    Construction workers (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)

    UPDATE, 8/1/22: After this article was published, the Department of Labor website was updated with a

  • As New York’s Next Building Boom Approaches, It’s Time to Double Down on Construction Safety

    Construction workers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    One look at the New York City skyline and you know that tens of thousands of workers have made their mark on this city. Ironworkers, carpenters, welders, plumbers, and electricians, among countless other tradespeople built New York – and they’ll also be the ones who ensure New York’s future is just as bright as its past.

    Construction, however, is undoubtedly dangerous work, and without proper safeguards and legal protections, the work becomes

  • An ‘Opportunity’ for Bad Economic Policy

    Workers on the job site (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)

    Recently, Patrick Purcell, Jr. of the New York State Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust and Assemblymember Karines Reyesauthored an op-ed regarding the Roadway Excavation Quality Assurance Act (REQAA) and its potential to positively impact the environment, the economy, and the workforce. The piece

  • Construction Industry Report More Evidence Scaffold Law Has Nothing To Do with Safety

    Scaffolding in action (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office)

    The tragic increase in the construction death ratereported by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) during the first year of the pandemic should concern all New Yorkers and inspire change in our worker safety laws. Unfortunately, one of the state’s most notorious laws

  • An Opportunity to Boost the Environment, Economy, and Workers

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Street construction (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    We have at times been led to believe that legislation can typically only fall in one of the following categories: environmental improvement, economic boost, or labor-friendly. In fact, we have actually seen instances where this is true and the goals outlined within a bill are at odds with others.

    But New York has an opportunity this session to support and pass legislation that clearly encompasses all three: the Roadway Excavation Quality

  • Construction Deaths in New York Increased During First Year of Pandemic, Report Shows

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    The construction industry was more deadly to workers in New York in the first year of the pandemic than in the two years prior, reversing a multiyear decline in the statewide fatality rate, a new report shows.

    Forty-one workers were killed on construction sites in New York in 2020, including 13 in New York City, according to a report published Thursday

  • Infrastructure Implementation: Apprenticeship Programs are Vital to Building New York Back Better

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    Construction workers (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)

    With the federal infrastructure bill now law, New York is primed to receive more than $100 billion in direct investment in public works projects across the state, inclusive of upgrades to mass transit systems, roads, highways, and bridges, and other essential and critical elements of New York’s future.

    The diverse array of infrastructure projects soon to break ground statewide also comes with a greater demand for skilled work – work that members of the unionized construction

  • Letter to the Editor: How to Really Prepare Workers for the Construction Industry and Good Middle-Class Jobs

    vision zero projects

    Workers rebuilding New York (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    To The Editor:

    A recent op-ed published at Gotham Gazette, co-authored by David Meade, executive director of Building Skills New York, was riddled with classic smoke and mirrors. One might be tempted to believe that Building Skills offers a chance to build public infrastructure with skilled training, safe career pathways, and

  • The Next Big Step in Stopping Wage Theft in the Construction Industry

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    Construction workers (photo: governor's office)

    I’m an employment attorney at Make the Road New York, a community-based organization that helps low-wage and immigrant workers fight workplace abuses. Among the hundreds of low-wage workers our team serves each year, construction workers make up the single largest group. We hear daily from construction workers cheated of their wages by subcontractors who refuse to pay overtime or disappear when a project is winding down, a problem that’s especially prevalent on the non-union and residential sites where

  • Skills Training is Integral to the Success of the Federal Infrastructure Plan and New York’s Construction Sector

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    Construction workers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    From the first day of its introduction, the Biden infrastructure plan has been cast as a critical tool to transform our nation’s economy after the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  

    This bipartisan deal aims to pump $1.2 trillion over the course of eight years into repairing and building new roads, bridges, broadband, and electric vehicle infrastructure, creating millions of new, good-paying jobs that will accelerate the covid recovery. 

    With the influx of

  • Saying Yes to Good Jobs in Queens When We Need Them Most

    mayor b visits

    Construction workers at work (photo: Edward Reed/Mayoral office)

    New York City is on a long road for recovery from COVID-19. Many of us have a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker who has been directly infected with this horrible disease. Because of our tragic experience, New Yorkers recognize better than people from any place across the globe the importance of masks, social distancing, and handwashing, and we have transitioned from the epicenter to become one of the safest places in the country.

    But while we have taken many necessary steps to combat the spread

  • AirTrain LaGuardia is Economic Stimulus New York Needs to Turn The Corner

    airtrain laguardia rendering via abetterwaytolga

    Rendering of the Airtrain LaGuardia (photo: A Better Way to LGA )

    When it comes to rebuilding an economy mired in crisis, my brothers and sisters in the Building and Construction Trade unions have been on the front lines time and time again. We know that building back our economy always begins with building up our infrastructure better than before. And today is no different.

    AirTrain LaGuardia is a perfect example of an infrastructure project that can lead the way in putting New York City

  • As New York City Continues on Path to Recovery, City Officials Must Take Action to Protect Good Construction Jobs

    all sidewalk active

    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Residents and businesses across the five boroughs continue to struggle as New York City begins the long process of economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. At times like these, it is the responsibility of city officials to not only create new opportunities but also to protect and sustain the jobs we have.

    That is why, amid all the much-needed public discussions around workers in hard-hit sectors, the construction industry – which employed ...

  • As Construction Sites Reopen, Access to Safety Training Must Too

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    Construction workers will be among the first back to work (photo: governor's office)

    In the blink of an eye, COVID-19 brought most of New York City’s construction industry to a halt, leaving thousands of hardworking individuals jobless and struggling to make ends meet. Fortunately, Governor Cuomo recently announced a phased plan to reopen the construction industry, which will create an increased demand for workers.

    But we can’t forget that as a requirement for employment in New York City’s industry, many construction workers and job applicants will need to complete additional

  • Expanding Construction Prevailing Wage Mandates Would Worsen Our Economic Crisis

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    Construction and the coronavirus recession provoke key questions (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)

    As the coronavirus crisis continues to hit New York harder than any other state in the nation, Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Heastie have undoubtedly answered the call and stepped up in a big way to protect New Yorkers and address statewide needs.

    But as they consider ongoing negotiations over the state budget – amid a partial shutdown of New York’s massive construction industry – state

  • Prevailing Wage is Economic Stimulus - New York Should Expand It Now

    gov cuomo moynihan

    Construction workers, and many others, can benefit from prevailing wage expansion (photo: governor's office)

    Massive unemployment following a period of slow recovery left 19 percent of Americans out of work. That was in 1938, when New York officially wrote the prevailing wage into the State Constitution, requiring projects that receive taxpayer funds to pay fair wages to their workers. Still deep into the Great Depression, New Yorkers understood that blue collar workers were the foundation of the economy and key to sustained economic growth.


  • Fair Wages are Good for the Economy, Albany Should Pass an Expanded Prevailing Wage

    may bdb nycha active construction

    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office)

    As the next state budget is being debated in Albany, increasing attention is being paid to the state’s prevailing wage laws. With so much misinformation out there, let’s set the record straight. Paying construction workers a middle class wage is a net positive for New York’s economy.

    Specifically, the issue is how construction workers are paid for projects that receive public funds. Since 1897, projects receiving taxpayer funds are required by New York State law to

  • How to Expand Opportunity in Construction for Those Left Behind

    gov cuomo con ann fac

    (photo: governor's office)

    A lot has been made of the disagreement between open shop contractors and union trades over decisions by owners of private projects to supplement select trades. But where others get lost in conflict, I see opportunity. 

    In many cases, open shop labor, machine operation, and some carpentry services are integrated to perform certain work, including safety and general condition services. But for many owners and construction managers, the reality is that most of the work on open shop projects is actually

  • New York Construction Workers Remain at Risk Without Legislative Action

    gov cuomo first phase rev

    (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    With this year’s legislative session in full-swing in Albany, special interest groups have resumed their attacks on laws designed to keep workers safe on construction sites. Construction and insurance trade groups, seeking to shed accountability and pad their pockets, have argued that labor protections like the Scaffold Safety Law are somehow undermining worker safety. However, ...

  • Prevailing Wage Extension Would Kill Jobs and Limit Housing for New Yorkers

    gov cuomo moynihan

    (photo: governor's office)

    If there’s one thing that New Yorkers can agree on, it’s that we should always strive to create new jobs, not take them away. Amazon’s recent decision to withdraw its planned “HQ2” from Long Island City is an example of us failing on this front. However, public officials still have an opportunity to redeem themselves by protecting local workers from a proposed prevailing wage expansion.

    Discussions are currently underway in Albany to extend prevailing wage requirements to private construction projects and could cost New