Report Shows Wage Standards Can Combat Inequality In New York City

Report Shows Wage Standards Can Combat Inequality In New York City

New York, NY– Setting wage standards for building service workers is an important tool to fight inequality in New York City, according to a report released today by the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI).

The report, entitled “Raising the Floor,” focuses on the importance of prevailing wage standards for building service workers-including 32BJ SEIU members– as a practical means for New York City to promote greater economic opportunities for working people, especially communities of color and immigrant families.

“This report shows that prevailing wage standards are good for workers and good for New York City,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “Building service workers are overwhelmingly people of color and residents of lower-income communities. If we want to fight inequality, these standards are an important tool to end the ‘tale of two cities’ and provide a path to the middle class for tens of thousands of working people.”

Good jobs provide vital opportunities for building services workers, well over half of whom are immigrants. The report documents the important role that prevailing wage standards for building service workers play in contributing to the economic well-being of the neighborhoods where building service workers live.

The report also shows the importance of union membership for building service workers. While prevailing wage must be honored for publicly contracted work or in buildings subsidized by the city, unionized workers also earn those rates in thousands of other buildings thanks to their contracts. In fact, unionized building service workers’ good wages make them economic drivers in the communities they live in.

Wage standards are critical in ensuring that workers are adequately paid, and prevailing wage standards are a key means to ensure that labor provides a path into the middle class.

“Raising wage standards will ensure that more New Yorkers will be able to share in the prosperity that our robust and diverse economy generates,” said James Parrott, FPI’s Deputy Director and Chief Economist and the report’s principal author. “Further, it is an important concrete step toward addressing the deep economic and racial divides across New York City’s neighborhoods.”

Click here to read the full report:

This report was supported by 32BJ SEIU.


 With more than 145,000 members, including 70,000 building service workers in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.

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