Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WNYC - Brian Lehrer covers the debate over A Chinatown Business Improvement District - click here to hear the AUDIO Podcast of the program

CLICK BELOW to hear the PODCAST provided by WNYC
Originally aired 11:30 am Dec. 8th 2010

WNYC has the INCORRECT recording on their website.

Eric Enquist of is a political reporter for Crain's New York. At the end of this piece he diminishes (quite irresponsibly) my comment about bill # A11672, as a "red herring". Although Mr. Enquist is entitled to his opinion, keep in mind that HE's not going to be paying MY rapidly escalating BID fees attached permanently to my property tax assessment with no way out.

After calling The Comptroller's office Monday Dec. 6th, I learned that John Liu is not going to comment on #A11672 with regard to how it relates to prevailing wages (which his office sets for NYC Government workers) and Business Improvement Districts - not because the bill makes no mention of BIDs, but because it simply hasn't been look at it that context. To diminish this bill in any way is foolish because even without the bill making it into law, the unions are already scrutinizing wage practices of BID contractors which puts a whole new spin on how everyone is going to pick up the trash from now on.

Daniel Massey of reports the story THIS WAY:

"In a new wrinkle to a larger legislative dispute that has festered for months, building-service powerhouse 32BJ SEIU has filed a complaint with New York City Comptroller John Liu alleging that the Union Square Partnership business improvement district is covered by existing prevailing wage law and has been underpaying workers by more than $14 an hour.

The union says it bases its argument on interviews with workers and a copy of the BID's contract with the city, which it obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request. It has requested contracts of BIDs across the city to evaluate whether they too might be in violation of the prevailing wage law.

In the complaint, the union alleges workers employed by BID subcontractor Atlantic Maintenance Corp. are paid as little as $7.41 per hour. The hourly prevailing wage for office cleaners in the city is $21.80, plus $8.36 in benefits; for security officers, it's $11.75, plus $4.46 in benefits.

“Well-funded BIDs have no financial reason for cutting costs on the backs of working New Yorkers,” said a 32BJ spokeswoman. “And some may be violating the law that prohibits tax dollars from being used to finance poverty-like jobs.”

Dan Biederman, chairman of the BID Association, an umbrella group representing the city's 64 BIDs, said the complaint is the latest in a series of “ongoing lobbying efforts” by 32BJ surrounding a prevailing wage bill under consideration in Albany that would end exemptions for public utilities.

A spokesman for the Union Square Partnership said in a statement that the BID's sanitation workers are represented by Amalgamated Industrial and Toy and Novelty Workers Local 223 and that a new contract went into effect July 1. “Atlantic Maintenance negotiated a comprehensive, fair and mutually agreed upon compensation package through a collective bargaining process that includes wages ranging from $8 to $14 per hour, paid vacation, and health coverage,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Liu had no comment."

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