The other day I was walking around New York City with my twin children. I pointed over at a glimmering skyscraper, and told them, “Daddy helped build that.”
I was mostly talking about the building – as a union carpenter, I’ve helped build countless homes, offices, and skyscrapers. I am proud to leave my mark on the city I call home.
But I also meant that I helped build the stable life I now share with my wife and kids, thanks to my career with union carpenters and contractors.
As I walk through the streets with my kids, I know that we’ll be able to afford to live here without worrying about putting food on the table or paying next month’s rent like I used to. I rest assured that I’ll be able to provide a good life for them, with quality healthcare, a stable income, and even access to college scholarships through my union when they get older. My job brings me lots of pride, but nothing can make me prouder than being a father.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. According to a recent study, half of New York City working-age households do not have incomes that cover basic needs, such as housing, food, health care, and transportation. This is a record-high proportion of families who have fallen below New York City’s skyrocketing cost of living.
As a born and raised New Yorker, I’ve seen evidence of this trend first-hand. Many of the friends I grew up with cannot afford to live in New York City anymore and have moved out. Rent prices in the Bronx, where I grew up and still live, would be unfathomable to my family when I was a kid. Those prices would probably be unfathomable today if not for my job with union carpenters and contractors.
I make good wages, receive quality health benefits, and participate in a retirement plan. My employer pays my benefits and I get to keep what I make. I have real savings and I can provide a good life for my family. This means I can comfortably live in the city I’m helping to build.
Good jobs are essential to keeping New York an affordable place for working people to live. I would encourage anyone in my community to pursue a union career because unions help guarantee fair wages and create stable, long-lasting careers. Union carpenters and contractors are also constantly investing in diversity and opening pathways to good jobs for those who need it most, including programs tailored specifically for low-income communities. They offer extensive training and mentorship programs to help members become experts at their craft. They also teach us to be active citizens so we can work together to protect union values in New York.
All New Yorkers deserve access to stable jobs with reliable benefits and family-sustaining wages, especially those who are making our city run every day. More union jobs in the city mean more people getting paid enough to live where they work. To keep New York City the great place that it is, it needs to be accessible for working people. Good jobs are essential to an affordable New York.