Community Benefits in New York City Bring Wall-to-Wall Living Wage Jobs to the Bronx

June 24, 2013 -- Partnership for Working Families

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) is celebrating a game changing Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in New York City, signed with the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC).  KNIC is building the world’s largest ice center at the Kingsbridge Armory, and the Kingsbridge CBA ensures that the project will incorporate community priorities and vision.  The victory is the culmination of 15 years of hard work and patient organizing. 

For the first time in the history of New York City, a developer has agreed to wall-to-wall living wage jobs.  The agreement also provides 52,000 square feet of community space; 25% local procurement for construction and operations and 51% local hire for permanent jobs; LEED silver green building and design practices; free after-school programs for local youth; priority ice time for neighborhood students and stiff enforcement mechanisms. 

Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, longtime NWBCCC activist and a member of the coalition’s bargaining team, said, “This is one of the strongest CBAs in the country.  So we have now modeled not only for the borough, for the city, for the state, and for the country, what a true community partnership can do.”

A 2009 plan backed by Mayor Bloomberg would have transformed the armory into a shopping mall.  But the New York City Council killed the project when the coalition stood firm on a requirement for living wage jobs.  The borough's unemployment rate hovers around 12%, the highest of any county in New York State. Median income is less than $32,000, the lowest in the city and about half that of Manhattan.  The Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) will generate 900 construction jobs and more than 260 living wage jobs. 

NWBCCC is joined by 24 signatories as well as community partners representing thousands of residents in the Northwest Bronx that support the project. Bill Sloan, owner of Morton Williams Supermarket, which employs more than 450 Bronx residents at their 12 stores, said “because of this historic Community Benefits Agreement the redevelopment of the Armory will certainly be an economic engine for our community, a win-win that all should support.”

Julian Gross, from the Community Benefits Law Center, who advised the coalition, said this “is the first credible CBA in New York City. It’s an important step forward for the Bronx and for the CBA movement nationally.”

Read a summary of the Kingsbridge Armory CBA here or read the text of the agreement here