Governor Hochul: “Because of that experience, I have steel running through my veins. And I know how critically important the union movement is to lifting individuals up, lifting families up, lifting communities up, and indeed, as we're coming out of this pandemic, you will be the reasons we lift this state back up. And I want to thank all of you for helping us build back in our comeback.”
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul attended the New York City Building Trades Winter Conference and delivered remarks. The Governor announced that the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York will be developing a Project Labor Agreement in partnership with the Long Island construction labor unions that will be used on all large-scale projects DASNY undertakes on Long Island. The Governor also committed to appoint a representative of organized labor to the statewide Climate Action Council, tasked with implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks are available below:
Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you, thank you. Very kind. If I felt at all tired from getting almost no sleep, I'm wide awake now. Thank you, that was great. Nothing like having Gary LaBarbera on your side, because that really does mean something. He's been a friend and an ally for a long time, but you know, you think about what he accomplished. It truly was two years ago today when they first declared what we were experiencing a global pandemic. I think about that in the context of the video and Gary LaBarbera, and I think of one of my father's favorite phrases. It’s when the going gets tough, the tough get going and there's nobody tougher than the Building Trades of the State of New York, the City of New York and Gary LaBarbera.
I need to recognize a few individuals. You would not know the true character of an individual until you see them under enormous stress and pressure. I thought I knew Roberta Reardon - nice lady, we did a lot of events together, a lot of ribbon cuttings. When it came down to getting billions of dollars out to people who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own, she worked 30 hours a day to make sure that she took care of New Yorkers. Let's give a round of applause to our great Commissioner of Labor, Roberta Reardon. She was there. She showed up. She fought back.
And Mario Cilento. We are on speed dial during the pandemic as well, because you had so many members in all walks of life - the frontline individuals who ran into hospitals like a fireman runs into a fire and says, I'm showing up, I'm going to fight back, I'm going to be there for people all across the state. The labor community was questioning what's going to happen to us? What's going to happen to our jobs? Will they ever come back? And the voice of calm through all this was Mario Cilento. I want to give him an extra round of applause for being here and his great work with the AFL-CIO.
And we are fortunate to have Sean McGarvey, the President of the North America’s Building Trades Unit here. That's a big deal. Sean, thank you for showing up right. Great to have your presence.
Vinny Alvarez, our president of the New York city CLC. Thank you, Vinny, a great friend.
Armand Sabitoni, General Secretary of the Laborers. And thank you, Laborers. There's a building up where I’m from, the Armand Sabitoni Apprenticeship Training Venter. I don’t have my name on any buildings, just saying, so I figured he was a big shot when they put his name on a building. I had a chance to meet him and work closely with him and I have such respect for him, as well.
Raymond Pocino, head of our vice-president here, as well. Thank you, Raymond, for showing up.
Carlo Scissura, where's the Building Congress? Carlo’s right there in front of me. Great to see you, Carlo. Another person who just kept it all going during this pandemic.
I also want to recognize Senator Jessica Ramos is here as well. Thank you for coming.
So, Gary gave my speech, talked about all the projects I'm really energized and excited about, but let me just put it into a larger perspective. I have been governor almost seven months, but before that I was a lieutenant governor for seven years. In that capacity, I had the honor of going to every corner of this state, seeing people in their workplaces. I have my own collection of hard hats from all the sites I've gone to. I've gotten used to wearing a blue collar in case you haven't noticed. I have been out there with all of you, seeing you create with your hands and your minds and your intellect.
All the people that you represent have been building this state for a long time, but to continue building and showing up on your work sites during a pandemic, when there was so much uncertainty and angst and fear among everyone else. And people you knew were Zooming in to life and their jobs in their pajamas in the basement, and your members didn't have that option.
And I don't think they would have taken it either because these are the toughest. These are the people who say, no, I'm showing up. I'm going to continue being on that job site and I'll do what it takes to keep myself and my coworkers safe. But you kept showing up and because of that, we were able to not put our economy and our dreams and our vision for the future on hold. We were actually able to move them quicker.
We kept working and we had the opportunity to just show what we're made out of. And it is a toughness that I feel blessed to have in my DNA because I come out of a strong union family. The reason my family was successful, is that grandma and grandpa who left extreme poverty in Ireland, they were told they had to leave, there was not enough money to feed them. They were the oldest of their family and there was not enough money coming in to feed these children.
They were sent off to the United States of America with no future, no hope, just a dream. And then grandpa left work as a migrant farm worker out in South Dakota because he heard there were jobs and a place called Lackawanna, New York. Where you could work making steel. And his whole life changed because he was part of the middle-class. He had a good union job and benefits, and he could raise his eight kids, my father being the oldest.
And my dad worked in that same steel plant, and I still drive by it when I'm back home. And I think about the thousands of people who made the steel that your workers put into buildings, that now grace the great skyline of New York City. That lifted my family out of their circumstances. Mom and Dad didn't have to live in a trailer park anymore because they had a good union job. Uncles were longshoreman, iron workers, plumbers. That's the world I come out of.
And because of that experience, I have steel running through my veins. And I know how critically important the union movement is to lifting individuals up, lifting families up, lifting communities up, and indeed, as we're coming out of this pandemic, you will be the reasons we lift this state back up. And I want to thank all of you for helping us build back in our comeback.
I don't need to go to the history of all the times you've been knocked down. We all know what happened 100 years ago, the last pandemic. You know what came out of that? The roaring twenties, and we had this unlimited sense of possibility and optimism, and that showed up in all the buildings and the undertakers, the tallest buildings, the subway system, the tunnels, we built our ways back through all of that.
And that's the history lesson that I'm looking at right now. Or how we built back lower Manhattan after people said, it's always going to be a target, don't even bother. And yet we said, no, there's a better way to do this. And now it's a place of jobs and people's livelihoods in their homes. That's the vision that's in this room. You as leaders know what we can do together.
And I want to say, thank God for President Joe Biden, who sent us the money that allows us to spend and support these projects. Let's continue to support him because he has supported the State of New York. And I wake up every day and I have one little prayer. I thank the people of Georgia because they gave us Chuck Schumer as the Majority Leader of the Senate. And because of that, the money continues to flow here as well as our leadership and the House Representatives who have supported the money.
So yes, we have resources, but the question is, what do we do with this? Well, first of all, we make up for many of the wrongs of the past. We have had communities divided by infrastructure for far too long. And we have the opportunity to correct them. Whether it's here in downstate with the Cross Bronx Expressway or all the way up to Buffalo. Black and brown communities were divided by highways because everybody couldn't wait to get out of the cities.
And as a result you divided communities, they thought forever. And we say, no, we're going to bring them back together with infrastructure dollars. The same thing in Syracuse with I-81, Rochester, finish the inner loop. And those are your colleagues working upstate, but downstate we have the opportunity to yes, once and for all, make our two airports, the shining welcome mat that they should have been for their entire existence. We will finish JFK. We will finish LaGuardia and you'll be so proud when your children and grandchildren go past those buildings and say, I helped build that.
But also Penn station, just the two words alone. They just kind of bring you down, don't they? Like, oh no, not Penn Station. Don't make me go to Penn Station.
Why is that? This is where our commuters come in from. This is where visitors go. This should be the most magnificent facility in our city. And I'm going to make sure that it is because we're going to make it unbelievable. An uplifting spirit filled with light coming in. And let's do the gateway tunnel. We can get that done. It's just one more project. We know how to build, let's make that connection.
And what about the radical idea that people in Brooklyn and Queens shouldn't have to go into Manhattan to come back to the other borough? I mean, let's just think about that we can have an inner borough connector that uses existing rail lines and get it done. And here's what I love the most. We can shave 40 minutes off of people's commutes.
You know what that means? That means you're going to be able to read that book to your child at the end of the day, or get up and maybe do a little exercise in the morning. I don't know. You know, just that quality of life. And I want to mention that because I said this in my budget address, but I announced the $5 billion capital plan and $1 billion to go after all those potholes. And I've had a personal encounter with every one of them. I know where they are because I've traveled 372,000 miles. All those are so important, but it's the overall theme of infrastructure and the work that many of you do comes down to making people's lives easier and better and more uplifting. It's all about quality of life.
And if we can, do our infrastructure to return more time in people's days and make it less of a stressful experience, then we're helping them as human beings. That's what your members are doing. Remind them of doing that. They're not just putting up a building or creating a rail line or putting up affordable housing. They're changing people's lives.
That's the power of this movement and you are the keepers of the flame, and I'm going to do my best. I'm going to continue to keep the dialogue open and I'm going to make decisions, they're going to help support what you do. And also, I want to make sure that we're not just talking about building back today.
We have to think about the future. Look at the effect of climate change already on our state. We all talked about the rebuilding during Hurricane Sandy and so proud of what we accomplished, the resiliency, but I did not expect on my second day on the job as your Governor to deal with a hurricane again in New York City, that literally took the lives of people that were trapped in their homes.
The flooding that came rushing into our subways, I said, no more. We have to build back resiliency. This cannot be our future. So we have to also protect our climate, our planet. And that's why I'm so excited about the green energy jobs and $500 million for offshore wind for example, which we are building with union jobs, components of the turbines up in Albany, shipping them down the Hudson River and getting them out off the shores of Long Island. That's what the future looks like. You are building that future as well.
Now, how are we going to get to that future? Here's what I see. You need more workers, because I've just laid out thousands and thousands of jobs and I'm going to continue investing in the highly effective apprenticeship programs that we need to expand. I want the door of opportunity open to more young people in communities of color, and I want to thank the union leadership for your efforts to recruit in communities, because I know it's intentional and you're having a result. It doesn't happen alone, it happens when you have a strategy.
But also, I go to all these sites, I'm saying, I need to see more women, got to see more women on these sites. And if we open up the doors and make it easier for women and they have a lot of struggles and challenges, because they're also taking care of children. But let's make it easier for them to be part of this future of building back our state. So let's be more intentional in that space as well.
But let's talk about a couple more opportunities. I am proud today to announce: We talk about Long Island, that DASNY is moving forward on working to develop a county-wide project labor agreement for large scale construction projects on Long Island, to make sure that those jobs go to our union brothers and sisters. That's hundreds of millions of dollars in projects every year, there you go! That one's for you! Thank you.
And we're just getting started. And I mentioned the climate. We can't address the challenges of climate change without having labor at the table. So I'm announcing today that we're adding a representative from Labor to the Climate Action Council as well. Let's get that done. Let's get that done. So I am about to head back, but before I go, I have a couple of questions for you.
I need to know, are you with me when we build back and have 100,000 affordable housing units to give people the dignity of a good home, are you with me on that? Are you with me on that? Are you with me? When we transform the entire experience of commuting in the State of New York with world-class facilities, are you with me on this. Are you with me as we fight the effects of climate change by building the most resilient infrastructure known to mankind, are you with me on that? Are you with me? We’ll go reconnect communities that have been separated because of discrimination and decisions made in the past. Are you with me with me when we write the wrongs of the past, are we going to do that together.
And are you with me as we finally closed the chapter on these two dark long years and say, “Because of this, we are stronger. We are more resilient as people, are you with me when we build back the future of the State of New York, are you with me? Are you with me? Because I want you to know one thing, my friends, because I'm with you. I'm with you. Thank you very much. Thank you.