In an effort to jump start building projects in New York City and put idle union construction workers back on the job, the leaders of more than 40 different building trades and union employer groups announced on May 29 what they termed a “historic compact” to cut wages of both labor and management and end expensive work rules. Proponents claim the citywide project-labor agreement will cut costs by as much as 21% on the first 12 high-rise and other commercial projects that it covers, representing $2 billion of construction and 10,000 jobs. But some are less enthusiastic about the cost savings, some unions are declining to participate and some developers may have to rethink profit margins in a changed city economy.
The agreement was reached between the Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) of Greater New York, which represents 100,000 union workers and the Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA), which includes 28 contractor groups and 1,700 union firms. The groups have been negotiating since last October, says Louis J. Coletti, BTEA president. “Contractors would have liked more, unions less, but we’re trying to save jobs in New York City,” he says.