Economic Development and Opportunity
Good jobs are the bedrock of Manhattan’s economy. Stable employment, a living wage, a diverse economy and a diverse workforce are all essential if Manhattan’s families and neighborhoods are to thrive and grow. Job creation and people-focused economic development is of the utmost importance if New York City is to maintain its position as a leading center of the national and global economy.
Borough President Stringer’s economic development agenda is guided by four principles—increasing access to good jobs with benefits, and promoting sustainable, safe and healthy jobs, and living wages for all New Yorkers. In addition, the Borough President is a strong proponent of employment policies that help workers balance their jobs with their family responsibilities and educational pursuits.
Among the activities the Borough President has undertaken on this front are:
A groundbreaking Community-Labor Task Force on Responsible Contracting, that brings together community and labor leaders to share their perspectives on development issues. This taskforce is forging a broad-based consensus in favor of development that provides job opportunities for community members, safe work sites governed by fair labor practices, and real opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses.
Breaking Parole: An Analysis of the New York State Division of Parole’s Caseload Management Guidelines, an investigative report showing that while burdened with out of control caseloads, New York’s Parole Officers lack the training and resources to supervise and service people on parole as they re-enter society. As a result, thousands of New Yorkers released from prison each year return to New York City neighborhoods with little chance of obtaining employment and avoiding a return to crime.
As Columbia University moves forward with plans for a massive expansion, the Borough President is working closely with the West Harlem Local Development Corporation and West Harlem residents on a community benefits agreement (CBA) that will ensure that local hiring is prioritized for the thousands of jobs that will be created by this development. Other conditions that will be negotiated in the CBA process include access to job training and equitable wages.
As a trustee of NYCERS (the New York City Employees’ Retirement System), which manages $42 billion earmarked to ensure a secure financial future for City employees and their families, the Borough President is promoting policies that support the long-term interests of New Yorkers. In September 2007 he began working with other trustees, including DC 37, to implement the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Investment. Implementing these principles will encourage investment managers, consistent with the trustees’ fiduciary duties, to responsibly disclose risks to workers’ pensions from investments with liabilities related to climate change or bad corporate governance and to pursue forward-thinking investment strategies that promote energy efficiencies and clean technologies.
Lobbying the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to reform how it reviews project proposals and disseminates information about economic assistance opportunities to communities. Results to date include increased transparency of board member debates and steps to hold businesses that receive financial incentives and tax abatements more accountable to the public.
Ongoing Issues of Concern
Access to Jobs
The phrase “working poor” has no place in a civilized society – particularly in the world’s wealthiest city and nation. A number of barriers stand between many New Yorkers and fulfilling, well-paid work. Borough President Stringer is actively looking for ways to increase job opportunities for all of Manhattan’s diverse communities.
In the area of City contracts, Borough President Stringer advocates changes to New York’s imperfect Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) contracting system that Increasing partnerships between unions, schools, communities and large corporations will be crucial to building a workforce with the skills to build successful, lifelong careers and to carry out the jobs of the future.
The Borough President is also an advocate for those who need a second chance at a legitimate job, especially formally incarcerated New Yorkers.
As predicted, globalization has led to jobs that pay less, offer fewer benefits, and are far less secure than the entry-level positions of a generation ago. New York City needs diverse, long-term employment opportunities that support a middle class. That means attracting and supporting industries that provide well-paid, sustainable jobs with benefits.
From encouraging artisan manufacturing through genuine mixed-use zoning, to promoting entirely new business sectors like green technology, the Borough President is dedicated to reversing today’s tough climate for working families.
Healthy employees are productive employees, and a safe environment is the right of every worker. State and local government must firmly enforce all workplace safety regulations, and pass tough legislation that protects employees from unsafe working conditions. New York City’s new law requiring businesses that employ bicycle delivery workers is an example of a common sense law that cost employers little, yet has the potential to prevent injuries and save lives.
People who do not have health insurance do not get routine health care. Very often, by the time they see a doctor, an illness that could have been prevented or treated early has spiraled out of control. Every New Yorker should have comprehensive health insurance. The Borough President supports living wage campaigns that also focus on the need for employees to have health insurance.
Wages for an Affordable City
The rising cost of living in Manhattan has so outpaced growth in wages that the middle income families who anchor the city’s neighborhoods are increasingly forced to leave. New York City must have living wage policies that ensure that no one who works lives in poverty. Borough President Stringer strongly advocates tax relief and child care credits for low income families. Enforcement of fair wage and labor laws is also crucial. Employers should be held to account when they break the law, or renege on promises. Businesses must not be allowed to pay less than the legal minimum wage. And companies that receive tax breaks, public subsidies or other benefits from government must be held to wage and job retention agreements.
Family Friendly Employment Policies
Families need flexible work policies to adequately care for themselves and their families. This includes having compensated family and medical leave time in case of illness, after the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for another family member. Paid sick days and flexible work hours are essential to balancing work with family responsibilities. Working families also need increased access to quality affordable child care and after-school programs. In addition, education should be counted as work for individuals in welfare to work programs making them eligible for subsidized child care while enrolled in education programs.