There is perhaps no greater example of what we've been trying to say about statewide wage mandates than the political killing of the Kingsbridge Armory project in New York City. The NYC Council voted against zoning changes necessary for the Armory to be turned into a shopping mall because the developers refused to accept "living wage" requirements. As a result of the Council's action (which has subsequently been vetoed by Mayor Bloomberg, although it is unlikely the veto will stand), over 1,000 construction jobs on the project have been lost.
Now, we've been saying for quite some time that implementing wage mandates on projects in New York State will cost us private sector jobs. We've rode that wagon train for years in an effort to stop Albany and local governments from taking action to dictate private sector salaries, yet there is a consistent push by organized labor and a host of state and local legislators to try to force wage mandates.
Now, all of a sudden, the reality comes to light - as NYC unions are realizing that the Council's insistence on sticking to their wage mandate guns has now cost them over a 1,000 jobs at Kingsbridge Armory. As you might imagine, they're not happy about it. But here's the question - Aren't you happy that your elected officials held the line on wage mandates, as your unions support? Isn't it a labor victory in the end, despite that fact that your members will be sitting at home longer now when jobs are at a premium?
It's ironic to see the other side upset about the same things the private sector has been saying for a long, long time. We work a lot in the intangible - we know that wage mandates will cost Upstate New York jobs, but in many cases, those are jobs that could've been in the future (had the wage requirements not been implemented). When we do find a development project, or an employer, that will suffer from wage mandates enough to not proceed - or proceed in another part of the country - we hammer that message home. But this story is very tangible, easily traceable to electeds' insistance on wage mandates, and a very unfortunate one for New York.
I'm not expecting that this will change organized labor's thinking on its statewide IDA "reform" - you can only hope that losing 1,000 jobs would be an eye-opener. But you can bet this story will become a staple of our advocacy repertoire.