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Workers’ Rights Activists & Building Trades Members Rally Outside Tompkins County Legislature ‘To Demand Local & Green Jobs Be Prioritized In Development Projects’

Published Thursday, November 19, 2020
by Anna Lamb/
Workers’ Rights Activists & Building Trades Members Rally Outside Tompkins County Legislature ‘To Demand Local & Green Jobs Be Prioritized In Development Projects’

(ITHACA, NEW YORK) - Representatives from the Building Trades Council, the Climate and Sustainable Energy Board and Labor Unions - including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), rallied outside the Tompkins County Legislative chambers earlier this week, demanding local and Green Jobs be prioritized as development continues county-wide amidst the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic.

The event comes on the heels of the new Green Workforce Report by the Tompkins County Climate and Sustainable Energy Advisory Board that details frequent tax abatements to local development projects with the promise of using local labor and no follow through.

Additionally, the report says while the county has signed on to ensure sustainable building practices as part of working towards a Green New Deal, that it has not made an effort to ensure the jobs from development go to local labor.

The report seeks to lay out a foundation for a Green Jobs Policy in Tompkins County that would, among other things, more closely link the awarding of valuable tax abatements to projects of a certain size with a requirement or incentive for those projects to employ local Workers.

Among other recommendations, it also mentions the formation of a Green Jobs Training and Diversity Council that would involve the local Building Trades Council and Tompkins Cortland Community College in particular, as well as appointing a member of the Building Trades Council to the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) - creating an opportunity for local labor to have a stronger voice in tax abatement decisions and how those interact with potential local Labor Policies.

"After months of conversations, research and collaborations with the Building Trades, the Climate and Sustainable Energy Advisory Board for the county has finally published a report on the Green Workforce," Organizer Ellie Pfeffer said Monday (November 16th). "And we're here because ‘we're raising our voices to make sure that the policy in the report gets passed.’"

The group of around 50 gathered to specifically ask the Tompkins County IDA to enact the Tompkins County report’s recommendations that include local labor requirements and Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on tax abated projects and to create opportunities for Apprenticeship on local projects in order to stimulate local Green Job creation.

"I went through a five year Apprenticeship and I would like to see more of that opportunity become available to local youth," said Alex Hyland, a local representative for IBEW. "But we can only have as many Apprenticeship opportunities as we're gonna have jobs for local entry level Workers down the road.  So if we get a Local Labor Mandate, if we get a Prevailing Wage Mandate, if we get a Project Labor Agreement - all of our Trades can expand our Apprenticeships, to include even more people and raise up the standard of living in our communities."

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