Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Dec. 16, 2010

Coalition Urges Governor to Veto Job-Killing Wage Mandate

ALBANY— A broad coalition of organizations representing local governments and businesses throughout New York State today urged Governor Paterson to veto legislation that will increase costs to taxpayers, utility customers, State and local governments and businesses statewide by expanding the prevailing wage law in order to benefit a small number of workers. [The full list of coalition members opposing this legislation is at the end of this release.]

If signed into law, A.10257-D/S.8379-A and A.11672/S.8454 will drastically expand the state's prevailing wage laws by categorizing privately owned natural gas and electric corporations as “public agencies” thus, requiring them to pay the prevailing wage rate to any service worker – even those not directly employed by the company. It also sets a very dangerous precedent by expanding this law to the private sector when there is no relationship between state resources and the payment of prevailing wage. This legislation, should it become law, will increase energy costs, and those costs will be passed along to every energy customer throughout the state including residential and business customers.

In addition, because this legislation expands the category for which prevailing wages must be paid, costs will be significantly increased to the State as well as to every local government. This is another unfunded mandate that governments cannot afford to absorb. For organizations created solely to improve New York's local economies, such as business improvement districts, these increased labor costs will diminish their ability to contribute to the State's economic recovery.

“This bill represents a huge job-killing mandate that New York's businesses and government cannot afford,” said Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “While it appears to impact only utility companies, it would go far beyond that and adversely impact every business in the state.”

The organizations opposing this legislation reflect a wide variety of interests from the business community from nearly every region across the state. It includes organizations representing local governments (Association of Towns of the State of New York, New York Association of Counties), businesses (The Business Council, National Federation of Independent Businesses/NY, NYC BID Association, Unshackle Upstate, and numerous chambers of commerce), economic development organizations, gas and electric companies and others.

“This bill represents the worst of Albany,” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “New York's economy is on life support, and the Legislature is advancing union-backed legislation that will increase the cost of doing business throughout the state. This will result in a further loss of jobs, increased costs for all New Yorkers and will push New York further into economic chaos.”

“This legislation would result in increased costs for governments and public agencies and higher utility and energy costs for businesses and consumers alike. It would also make it more difficult for small businesses to bid on and perform this type of work because of the imposition of prevailing wage mandates--including many minority and women owned businesses that Gov. Paterson's administration has worked so diligently to empower and assist. The logical question then is this: Why further increase the cost of government, worsen our tax burden, and drive up the cost of doing business in an already perilous economic climate as this legislation would do? We strongly urge Gov. Paterson to veto this bill,” said Mike Elmendorf, New York State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

“Efforts to improve New York's business climate are difficult enough as it is, putting forward new challenges such as costly wage mandates will only reverse the hard fought progress we've made,” said Dan Biederman, chair of the NYC BID Association. “These bills couldn't have come at a worse time as we try to reinvigorate our struggling economy.”

Despite their diverse constituencies, the coalition members agree that New Yorkers need the costs of living and working in this state to be reduced, not increased. Special-interest legislation such as this bill inappropriately burdens taxpayers, the State and local governments and private businesses.

Full list of organizations opposing the service worker prevailing wage legislation:

National Federation of Independent Business
Business Council of New York State
NYS Association of Counties
Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
Unshackle Upstate
NYS Economic Development Council
MACNY - Manufacturers Association of NYS
Buffalo Niagara Partnership
Retail Council of NYS
NYC BID Association (representing dozens of business improvement districts throughout New York City)
NYS Association for Affordable Housing
Chamber Alliance of New York State
The Westchester County Association
Consolidated Edison
Central Hudson Gas & Electric
Rochester Gas and Electric
National Fuel
Orange & Rockland Utilities
National Grid
Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp.
Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Schenectady County
Rockland Business Association
Ulster County Development Corp.
Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors
Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation
Ulster County Development Corporation
Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Otsego County Chamber of Commerce
Staten Island Chamber of Commerce