Labor Spotlight: A Q&A with I. Daneek Miller

Labor Spotlight: A Q&A with I. Daneek Miller

Labor Spotlight: A Q&A with I. Daneek Miller
September 2, 2015

City & State: Given the state’s decision to end the 421-a tax abatement if a deal isn’t reached by January, what sort of viable options do you think the administration has to pursue its affordable housing agenda?

I. Daneek Miller: Any city administration retains tremendous tools to build and leverage private and nonprofit development of affordable housing. This includes zoning and land-use tools, financing, reduction on non-property taxes. It makes sense to work with organized labor to ensure qualified and competent folks build safe and secure affordable housing that lasts.

C&S: What do you think the proposed agreement with the Uniformed Firefighters Association means for the arbitration case with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association?

DM: Pattern bargaining plays a role, but each union seeks correctly to address those circumstances unique to their members’ duties and needs. That remains for the collective bargaining process. As a former labor leader, I recognize my role as a legislator is to not inject myself into that process. What I do know, and studies demonstrate, is that fairly compensated workers remain very productive and loyal.

C&S: What does the administration’s goal of a $15-an-hour minimum wage mean for personnel, including contracted workers?

DM: We need to understand that contracted workers – even the nonprofit agencies – represent some form of privatization. Generally, better pay cuts into the profits of management and ownership. A goal of a $15-per- hour minimum wage helps lift folks who often lack the ability to organize successfully for a fair and honest wage. Our goal should be to lift people up and not protect the enrichment of a few, especially when public dollars are involved. We need to assure agencies responsibly compensate workers performing critical public services.

C&S: Some have suggested efforts to reduce provisional employees, as required under state law, may be causing a brain drain among the government workforce. Is this a valid concern?

DM: Provisional employment gets used to end-run civil service rules and can lead to cronyism. No brain drain issue exists in the civil service. It represents mismanagement where agency managers failed to ensure that qualified personnel secure appropriate permanent employment within the civil service system.  

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