Adrianne Shropshire, Executive Director of New York Jobs with Justice
, has a great guest post
on the Drum Major Institute blog today. She discusses how publicly-funded development are flourishing all over the city and that Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are a potential tool for ensuring that local communities reap benefits and lessen the project’s negative impacts. However, Shropshire argues that CBAs aren’t always beneficial:
CBA's in the hands of self-organized community coalitions have won important benefits for local communities but CBA's in the hands of developers looking for good PR are dangerous. As we look at the ongoing controversy surrounding the Bronx Terminal Market and numerous developments in Yonkers and related subsidy abuse we must ask ourselves are CBAs always the best answer and who should be leading the process?
Shropshire’s answer to this very real problem is, in part, governmental:
Legislating CBA's has to be part of the answer. Taking key segments in CBA's out of the arbitrary negotiation process and making them public policy should be one goal. There is no negotiating over job quality. Wage and benefit standards are non-negotiable. Prevailing wage and living wage shouldn't even be on the table. Environmental standards and containing sprawl are non-negotiable. Local hiring is non-negotiable. A clear role for community residents in the decision-making process is non-negotiable. Setting a floor will allow local communities to focus their negotiations on other desperately needed community benefits like affordable housing, childcare centers, open space, etc.
We will be pushing the City Council to have hearings on this entire issue and we’re sure Adrianne’s point of the view will be well received.