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Eric Adams’ Community Op-Ed: Labor Day: A celebration of working people and the unions that support them

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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, and you can 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 to 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!

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