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Push for prevailing wage in environmental cleanup projects heats up

New York State Senator Peter Harckham, a leading Democrat in the state’s environmental conservation panel, has proposed offering property tax credits to developers working on brownfield remediation projects. The catch? These developers must comply with prevailing wage provisions for their construction workers.

The proposal aims to make large-scale environmental projects more labor-friendly in New York. Harckham emphasizes that the complex task of removing dangerous pollutants from brownfield sites requires skilled, experienced workers who deserve fair wages. He urges developers to invest in the right workforce to ensure the proper completion of these critical environmental projects, without cutting corners.

Developers who fail to meet the prevailing wage requirements risk having their cleanup agreements terminated. However, affordable housing projects would be exempt from this proposal, according to Harckham.

Thomas Callahan, President of the New York State Conference of Operating Engineers, supports the legislation, highlighting the hazards both brownfields and their remediation pose to communities and the workers involved. He believes that the proposed legislation will not only benefit the environment but also protect the workforce. As a result, cleaner and safer environments will pave the way for better communities and increased job opportunities.

This proposal follows last year’s state budget expansion of prevailing wage measures and two-year extensions for tax credits granted to brownfield redevelopment projects facing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.