The editorial was written by Gabe Morgan, director of the Service Employees International Union Local 3 and co-chair of Pittsburgh United, and Sam Williamson, Western District director of the PA Joint Board of UNITEHERE (a combination of the former Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union).
Whereas past debates focused singularly on how to attract development, we have finally begun to consider issues such as development standards and community benefits. Some have argued that this broader discussion is an impediment to much-needed economic growth. Some seem to view development standards and community benefits as being mutually exclusive from or diametrically opposed to economic growth. But around the country experts now see these issues as bound together and mutually reinforcing.
Community benefits agreements are in fact pro-development, pro-business and pro-community, and the recent alliance of government and members of the community to work one out for the Hill is an example of Pittsburgh leaders recognizing this.
CBAs are win-win-win. They ensure redevelopment of urban areas and create multiuse, equitable and sustainable growth. They encourage good development by linking people of mixed incomes with affordable housing and good-paying jobs, which stimulates equitable economic growth that is, by discouraging sprawl, environmentally friendly.
Still, some economists ring alarm bells, suggesting that community input discourages investment. They should read a recent New York Times op-ed piece by economist and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who says the best way to remedy economic downturns in weak market cities such as Pittsburgh is "to increase the wages of the bottom two-thirds of Americans."
Community benefits agreements often assemble powerful community-labor coalitions. These coalitions are as essential to lifting the living standards of working families and their communities at the beginning of the 21st century as they were at the beginning of the 20th century.
The truth is, in strong and weak markets alike, development standards and community benefits have proven to be good for business. If we do not include them in the development process, research shows that inequality is likely to grow. And inequality not only damages the quality of life of residents, it also hinders economic growth.
Real economic growth comes from equitable development. Development standards and community benefits ensure that development is equitable and raises the quality of life of all residents -- not just for developers.
Community benefits agreements and development standards are the only way to ensure that the greater community reaps the benefits of its huge investment in this private enterprise. This is not an either/or proposition; it is a both/and proposition, and the future of our region's economy depends on it.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Pittsburgh editorial on CBAs
Possibly taking some cues from the CBA spin book, there was a nicely written editorial in yesterday's Post-Gazette about CBAs in general and in Pittsburgh. Here are some excerpts: