For Immediate Release:
March 24, 2021
For more information contact:
Providence Rises Together
Coalition Calls On Providence City Council for Tax Break Reforms that Benefit Community and Local Workers, Not Developers
Providence Rises Together is rallying for reforms to the city’s Tax Stabilization Agreements, which would require community investment and fair wages during and beyond new construction
PROVIDENCE, RI — A coalition of community and workers’ rights groups are calling on Providence City Council members to adopt a much-needed ordinance to reform the city’s Tax Stabilization Agreements (TSAs). Concerned that developers – not the community – are benefitting from the tax breaks, Providence Rises Together is launching a public awareness campaign to encourage action from City Council, including ads on local stations, digital ads, and calls to City Councilmembers. You can view the first of those ads here.
The proposed Tax Stabilization Investment ordinance, supported by labor unions, community advocates, and 14 out of 15 City Councilmembers, would require that employers who receive city tax benefits institute diverse hiring practices in line with community values. It would also guarantee that construction workers building new projects, as well as anyone employed in these buildings after their completion, earn livable wages.
“Workers are standing together to support fair tax reforms,” said Scott Duhamel, Secretary-Treasurer of the Rhode Island Building Trades. “Everyone should be sharing in carrying the load of bringing our city back to full health.”
“For too long, the City of Providence has doled out tax breaks to developers that engage in unfair and inequitable labor practices, including wage theft – a phenomenon that hurts not just workers, but also the city and its taxpayers,” said Justin Kelley, Business Representative for IUPAT DC 11. “It’s time for tax reforms that actually work for working families. This new ordinance would require developers to invest in apprenticeship programs, diverse hiring practices, and good wages standard to our industries – during and beyond construction.”
For years, tax breaks have been granted to contractors who have proven track records of wage theft and reporting non-compliance. Even the city’s own internal audits have shown the weaknesses in its current process for allocating Tax Stabilization Agreements, including recipients’ non-compliance with fees and regulations, worker misclassification, and lack of transparency. As the city focuses on economic recovery post-COVID, the Providence Rises Together Coalition is drawing attention to the positive effects that TSA reforms would have on economic development, tax revenue, and working families across Providence.
The tax reforms identify real-world solutions that apply sound public policy that would encourage fair and equitable practices for construction and repair projects for both commercial and residential property.
“Rhode Island Building Trades and the Rhode Island Laborers’ District Council is in full support of the City’s efforts to standardize, streamline, level the playing field, and ensure responsible contracting policies when it comes to the tax stabilization process,” said President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council Michael F. Sabitoni. “This improved process will undoubtedly ensure the benefits are shared between the business and the community.”
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About Providence Rises Together Coalition
Providence Rises Together Coalition is a collection of labor unions representing both construction workers and service workers encouraging the Providence City Council to pass the Tax Stabilization Investment ordinance. For more information, visit www.ProvidenceRisesTogether.org.