Guest Opinion | Labor Day: A Celebration of Working People and the Unions That Support Them

Jan. 26, 2023: In his second State of the City Address, Mayor Adams outlines a Working People’s Agenda for NYC. | Photo via

BY NYC MAYOR ERIC ADAMS | Here in New York City, the three-day Labor Day Weekend marks the beginning of a new year in many ways. Many of us are enjoying the last days of summer, traveling or spending time with friends and family—and our children are getting ready to return to school.

This chance to relax and recharge is possible thanks to the American labor movement, whose members fought for so many workplace benefits that we now take for granted—from basic safety protections to the 40-hour workweek. Labor Day celebrates those landmark achievements and the people who continue to fight for workers and their rights.

As New York City’s blue-collar mayor, I have stood shoulder to shoulder with working people all my life. As a former union member and the son of a union member, I’ve experienced firsthand the transformative power of labor organizing. Being part of a union was what allowed my mother—a single mom raising her six children in a modest home—to provide for our family and keep a roof over our heads.

Now that I am in City Hall, our administration is working hard to create jobs, support labor unions, and ensure that working people get the wages, rights, and benefits they deserve. We have actively worked to promote a Working People’s Agenda that calls for investments in housing, job training, and education—as well as support for those who serve our city every day.

I am proud our administration has actively worked to support our municipal unions, reaching landmark contract agreements with the Uniformed Officers Coalition—a group that includes the NYPD, FDNY, DSNY, and the Department of Corrections. We also reached new and improved labor contracts with the United Federation of Teachers, PBA, and DC 37, New York City’s largest public sector union. All of these labor agreements support the thousands of New York City workers who support us—and keep us the greatest city in the world.

Our economy continues to show record growth and recovery. In fact, we have recovered 99% of the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic. And we are focused on creating more jobs than ever before—jobs you can build your life around (build our city and our economy around).

We’re bringing jobs directly to the people by creating the Office of Community Hiring. Community Hiring will use the city’s immense purchasing power to create a more equitable economy by ensuring that contractors who benefit from the city’s spending hire from often-overlooked communities. Once fully implemented, community hiring has the potential to create 186,000 jobs for economically disadvantaged workers and residents over the next five years.

We have also launched a number of new job training programs, including New York City PINCC, or Pathways to Industrial and Construction Careers. This program would train and place over 2,000 New Yorkers into high-wage, career-track jobs in the construction, transportation, and utility sectors over the next three years.

Workers are the bedrock of our city’s prosperity, and as more asylum seekers continue to arrive, we want to make sure they are getting an opportunity to support themselves and integrate into our society. That is why we continue to call for work authorization for asylum seekers, who have so much to contribute to our economy, and who can help fill the jobs New Yorkers do not want.

We have thousands of unfilled jobs right here in New York City, including openings in manufacturing, food service, home care, and transportation. And, just as so many previous immigrants did, we must help new arrivals get a job and do their part of pursuing the American Dream.

New York City is America’s largest union town, and union solidarity is what makes so many American Dreams possible. As a proud supporter of workers from all walks of life, I’ll continue to fight for the same things unions do: Fairer wages, better benefits, and a higher quality of life. Happy Labor Day!

To visit the Office of the Mayor of New York City online, click here.

About Community Hiring

Community Hiring allows the city to leverage its purchasing power, set hiring goals across billions of dollars of city procurement contracts, and build on the success of existing project labor agreements and agency-specific hiring programs. Community Hiring will help support an equitable, inclusive economy, and deliver on the promise to prioritize the needs of working people by creating pathways to careers with family-sustaining wages. The Office of Community Hiring plans to partner with all types of training providers to link talent within communities of NYCHA residents, veterans, justice-involved individuals, immigrants, CUNY graduates, and people with disabilities, among others, to jobs and apprenticeships. Through working with contractors to identify promising talent and provide employment and apprenticeship opportunities for low-income individuals and those residing in economically-disadvantaged communities, an estimated 36,000 jobs will be created annually for low-income individuals and impacted communities, allowing city contractors to leverage the full talent of the New York City workforce. By directly linking capable jobseekers with city contractors, Community Hiring will remove the barriers that contractors face in accessing and hiring talent, allowing them to instead focus on project delivery and providing services for the city.

Pathways to Industrial and Construction Careers

As part of the U.S Economic Development Administration (EDA) Good Jobs Challenge grant award, New York City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) will support workforce development efforts in the local building and construction industry as well as its transportation, distribution, and logistics industry–two industries critical to supporting New York City’s local economy and supply chain. The NYC Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development will serve as the backbone organization to the building and construction sectoral partnership and the Consortium for Worker Education (the workforce development arm of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO) will serve as the backbone organization for the transportation, distribution, and logistics sectoral partnership. Both organizations aim to bridge the gap between employers in these industries seeking a diverse workforce and individuals reliant on local public assistance systems. With a focus on clients served through Cash Assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and NYC Housing Authority’s public housing program, HRA will support recruitment and training efforts designed to place New Yorkers into good-paying union jobs in these two sectors. HRA partners include six local unions and the City University of New York system. The project will also leverage the NYC Project Labor Agreement (PLA) to place low-income New Yorkers into union apprenticeships for construction, ensuring that union apprentices are prioritized for hire on PLA-covered city capital contracts.


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