NYS Building & Construction Trades Council Backs Hochul for Governor

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The New York State Building & Construction Trades Council — a union representing more than 200,000 construction workers across the state — on Thursday endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul for the hotly contested 2022 New York governor’s race.

Hochul faces a number of competitors in the election, including city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in the Democratic primary. But the support of the construction union, which quietly supported Andrew Cuomo prior to his abrupt resignation after Attorney General Letitia James released a report finding he sexually harassed multiple women, is a crucial base of support for Hochul. (James dropped out of the governor’s race in December 2021).

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“The New York State Building & Construction Trades Council is proud to endorse Gov. Hochul in her campaign for reelection,” Gary LaBarbera, the union’s president, said in a statement. “Since day one on the job, Gov. Hochul has made clear her commitment to working people through both words and action, dedicating herself to the issues important to our membership and effectively advancing and planning for transformative projects that will create countless middle-class careers with benefits for tradesmen and tradeswomen across the state.”

Hochul has signed a number of legislative initiatives important to trade unions — from extending shared work benefits to making contractors liable for wages owed to employees of their subcontractors. It remains to be seen whether other powerful unions will rally behind Hochul. The Transportation Workers Union International previously supported James for the post, before Hochul rose to the top of the crop in early polls last year.

Hochul’s and James’ stories are intertwined: James’ report triggered Cuomo’s resignation, allowing Hochul to become the first female governor of New York. Before serving as lieutenant governor from 2015 to 2021 under Cuomo, Hochul previously served as a Buffalo congresswoman, where she was known for her strong support of gun ownership and opposition to granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, the New York Post reported.

As governor, Hochul has been known for her pandemic response and new policy initiatives. She revived a plan for an interborough express rail line and promised to repeal a state cap on residential density in New York City — allowing for buildings to be constructed that are more than 12 times the size of the lot they sit within. 

She also called for easing hotel-to-residential property conversions and repealing the 421a tax abatement for multifamily development. Despite floating the repeal of the tax abatement, Hochul is quite popular with the real estate industry. She has also been endorsed by several Manhattan state lawmakers, including state senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, The New York Daily News reported.

“I am proud to receive the endorsement of the NYS Building Trades Council,” Hochul said in a statement. “The union members represented by this council helped build our state and will play a critical role in rebuilding our economy.”

Hochul and Williams are also facing off against Democrat and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi of Long Island; former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino; U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, also a Long Islander; and Andrew Giuliani, son of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio may also run for the office, though he has not officially announced his candidacy. 

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.