Buffalo AFL-CIO Council & WNY Area Labor Federation Reps On Erie County Industrial Development Agency Board Pushing Forward On Local Hiring Provision
Buffalo Council President Hoffert Praised By WNY Area Labor Fed President Lipsitz For Leading Charge/Both Say A Workforce Standards Agreement Is A Tremendous Economic Development Benefit That Creates Good-Paying Jobs For Local Workers
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: Buffalo AFL-CIO Labor Council President Michael Hoffert (seated on the Far Left) and Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz (seated directly next to Hoffert) attend a recent meeting of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA). As ECIDA Board Members representing the best interests of Union-Represented and Working People, the two are attempting to convince the rest of the ECIDA Board to support a Workforce Standards Agreement – which would ensure Local Workers are hired and paid Good Wages when the ECICA provides Taxpayer Dollars to help fund future Major Construction Projects in Erie County (Photo Courtesy of Michael Hoffert/Facebook Page)
(BUFFALO) – Now that a successful push spearheaded by Organized Labor has been brought to fruition to ensure that Local Workers are hired and Good-Paying Jobs are created on a new $100 Million, Six-Story, 287,000-square-foot Building in the growing Downtown Medical Corridor, Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) Board Members – Buffalo AFL-CIO Labor Council President Michael Hoffert and Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz – are aiming to convince their fellow ECIDA Board Members to support a future Workforce Standards Agreement when the Agency provides Taxpayer Dollars for such Major Construction Projects across Erie County.
That effort might have already been made a bit easier by the fact that Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation Affiliate/Conventus Partners LP worked with the Buffalo Building & Construction Trades Council on an Agreement that calls for at lest 90% of the Construction Workers hired on the Project to be from within Erie County, and that at least 20% of the Workers hired are Women and Minorities. The ECIDA subsequently approved a $3.5 million Incentive Package to Conventus/Ciminelli after Hoffert and Lipsitz raised serious questions about where those Construction Workers hired on the Project would ultimately come from.
“Hopefully this Agreement – which we would like to have called a ‘Workforce Standards Agreement’ – will be adopted by the ECIDA for Future Funded Projects,” Hoffert told WNYLaborToday.com during a recent sit-down interview that included WNYALF President Lipsitz. “It carries a tremendous Economic Benefit with Local Workers being hired and the Creation of Good-Paying Jobs, which generates Tax Revenues in the Community.”
“… and not (Construction) Jobs that will be filled by Workers coming from places like North Carolina,” Lipsitz told Your Regional, On-Line Labor Newspaper, while heaping praise on Buffalo Labor Council President Hoffert, whom Lipsitz said deserves the credit for coming up with and pushing forward such a Workforce Standards Agreement with the ECIDA.
Hoffert and Lipsitz, meanwhile, told WNYLaborToday.com they are working on selling the idea of including a Workforce Standards Agreement – that would feature the 90% Local Hiring Mandate and a 20% WMBE Goal - in Future Funded Efforts to the ECIDA Policy Committee. Should all go well, Hoffert and Lipsitz said the Agreement would then be discussed at the April 8th ECIDA Meeting and subsequently submitted to the Full ECIDA Board on April 22nd.
“We are hopeful it will be adopted in the future since Ciminelli had no problem entering into such an Agreement,” Hoffert said. Added Lipsitz: “And we’ll work to make it mainstream so all Future Projects fall into place.”
While the recent developments are considered a positive by both Hoffert and Lipsitz, both stressed that efforts to Reform IDAs across Western New York, as well as throughout New York State – which Organized Labor is heavily involved in – will not be discontinued.
“Seven years we’ve been working on IDA Reform, across the State. But here, we see an opportunity outside the ‘All or Nothing’ effort. This is significant because it’s Local. (Organized Labor) will continue to work with our Elected Officials like State Assemblyman Sean Ryan to push IDA Reform in the State Legislature,” said Hoffert, who also pointed to a similar Workforce Standards Agreement that has been used successfully in nearby Monroe County.
In addition, the New Agreement will include OSHA Safety Requirements, which both Hoffert and Lipsitz said “raises the bar” on Worker Safety on all IDA-Funded Construction Projects.
On another and related front, Amherst Town Board Member Mark Manna – a Member of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union here in Western New York – has also been lobbying hard to get the Amherst IDA to hire Local Labor when providing Tax Breaks for Amherst Projects.