August 21, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Harlem, NY—The building trades marched here with affordable housing activists on Wednesday evening to demand that the de Blasio administration follow through on building affordable housing with living wages.
Building trade members from the plumbers, carpenters and painters’ unions convened at the First Corinthian Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard before marching from 116th street up to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street where different speakers spoke, such as Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, on the need for the city to expand affordable housing.
The building trades joined with the affordable housing activists to address an affordability-housing crisis in New York City. They are members of the Real Affordability for All coalition, an eclectic group of 50 different organizations who work to preserve affordable housing, protect the environment, saving the planet and serving the homeless.
According to the coalition, over the past 10 years rents have increased at twice the rate of household incomes citywide, while the number of rent-regulated apartments has been steadily declining throughout the city.
In the accompanying video, we first interviewed Davon Lomax, deputy political director for DC 9 painters union, who said his members were participating in the march because they wanted to join with the numerous organizations to advocate for more affordable housing that is built with living wages.
“We’re all here standing together with faith-based, justice-advocate and community organizations because we see what’s happening around the city. A lot of our members don’t make that much money, and a lot of the housing that they’re building they can’t even afford to live in,” said Lomax.
Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said he was marching with the different groups because they all want affordability and good jobs.
“We’re all here together because we all want the same thing—more affordability and we want affordable housing to create good union jobs, and we believe that we can do this,” said LaBarbera.
Raymond Rondino, political director for Plumbers Local 1, said his members were marching after working all day because they believe that the city can build affordable housing with living wages.
“There’s no reason it can’t,” said Rondino.
And Steve McInnis, president of the NYC District Council of Carpenters, said his members were marching because the carpenters have been a vehicle to the middle-class since the 1880s.
“For 130 years, the carpenters union has been a social justice organization and it’s pretty natural for us to be working with other social justice organizations on an issue like affordable housing,” said McInnis.