December 15, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco
Queens, NY – District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades continues to strengthen its alliance with non-traditional allies this week, telling two chambers of commerce representing Hispanic-owned business in New York, that working men and women are “capitalists just like you.”
“We want to make money, and we want you to make money…doing it the right way,” DC 9 Political Director Davon Lomax recently told representatives from both the New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (NYSCHCC), and the Colombian American Chamber of Commerce of Long Island (CACCLI).
DC 9 opened up its training center doors in Long Island City on Wednesday, December 10, to help the Hispanic groups welcome Colombian Consul General in New York Elsa Gladys Cifuentes, in advance of a special trade mission to the Latin American nation this May.
The union, which represents painters, glaziers, drywall finishers, metal glassworkers and other skilled craftspeople, is currently helping the NYSCHCC shepherd more women- and minority-owned businesses through the city’s often arcane procurement process.
There is $16 billion in city procurement money presently available to businesses – but only 3.9 percent of it is getting into the hands of the 140,000 Hispanic businesses active in New York City.
“Right now, here in New York City, there is about $6 billion worth of work in Project Labor Agreements, and many of our contractors don’t have the companies to fulfill that percentage,” DC9 Business Representative Elliot Santiago added. “Our interests are interconnected. We want to work with you side-by-side.”
Wendy Garcia, deputy chief of Diversity for the NYC Comptroller’s Office, conceded that more needs to be done to help connect women- and minority-owned businesses to the billions of dollars the city has to spend.
“We are not doing well,” Garcia said. “But there is hope ahead. We will do better.”
In August, DC 9 backed an effort to help Hispanic businesses cut through the city’s red tape and successfully plug into those procurement dollars.
“DC 9 is willing to work with them and grow their companies if they are willing to do the right thing by their workers,” Lomax later told LaborPress. “We believe that training workers, and paying them wages to sustain a middle-class lifestyle can only benefit their companies. DC9 and the NYSCHCC have formed a relationship based on these beliefs. For us, it’s about finding hungry M/WBE contractors looking to grow their business and employ a well-trained workforce.”
The union is also working together with the NYSCHCC in planning a new training facility in Puerto Rico.