Much to her credit, City Council Member Diana Reyna has become the driving force behind the Safe Jobs Act (Intro 1169). With an estimated 2 billion dollars of public money being doled out annually to private developers, legislation such as this, is long overdue.
In a political atmosphere that is all too often rife with mean spiritedness directed at workers who receive “entitlements” from government agencies, it is high time a spotlight be shown on the type of corporate welfare that is the true underlying cause of the breakdown of an economic system that for generations, worked well for people on all the rungs of the socio-economic ladder.
Council Member Andy King framed the issue accurately when he spoke of “developers who walk away with millions and the person who picks up a hammer or a drill and builds, can barely support a family.” Intuitively, anyone with a sense of fairness knows that is wrong.
This may not be a “union bill” as Ms. Reyna suggests, but it is in every sense a labor bill, a fact from which we should never shrink because as Council Member Mark Weprin clearly stated, “ it is the men and women of labor who built this city … who built a city that took in 50 million dollars in tourism last year.” And of course there is no denying that “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” is a concept that transcends all organizational ties. Justice doesn’t need a series of letters to define it.
Even if one were to totally disregard any social compact expected or relied upon, the idea of transparency for taxpayer dollars is a sound one. The savings that irresponsible developers realize are never passed on to the taxpayer. They remain in the pockets of the well- to- do who have stumbled upon a way to do even better, with workers and taxpayers alike footing the bill. The perfect example of this insult being added to injury is seen in Millwright Maria Espinial who, besides being a New York City construction worker, is also a New York City homeowner and taxpayer. Her position is clear, “ I want to know where my tax dollars are going.” Transparency needs no further explanation.
This brings us to the issue of safety. When we hear someone like Safety and Health Advocate, Keith Wrightson that tell us that there were 36 fatalities in the construction industry, as well as 13 fatalities among maintenance workers in 2011 and 2012 how deeply does that sink in? In a culture where we are constantly bombarded with statistics of staggering proportions (think national debt or trade deficits) have we simply become numb to the fact that nearly 50 human beings said good bye to their loved ones one day and never saw them again?
Perhaps to put it in perspective, we should consider the fact that in 2012 there were a total of 5 law enforcement fatalities and 6 firefighter fatalities in the entire state of New York. Of course we value the lives of our police and fire fighters, as well we should, and in so doing we make every effort to minimize the tragedy of loss. That practice should not be questioned. What we should ask ourselves is why do we see construction and maintenance workers as expendable?
The lack of fiscal transparency and the relaxation of safety standards on the part of irresponsible developers is not now, and never will be, a tolerable condition in the greatest city in the world. The proposed Safe Jobs Act is a good example of the type of legislation necessary to insure that the New York economy is one that works for all its citizens.
- Posted by admin
- On November 1, 2013
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