From the Morning Memo:

A coalition of statewide business groups is circulating a letter to state lawmakers opposing a measure that would set aside a prevailing wage for workers in the construction industry.

“Prevailing wages are currently required only for public projects such as those undertaken by the state or municipalities,” the letter states. “If enacted, this bill would for the first time extend costly and administratively-complex wage mandates to privately-owned and developed projects.”

The letter, from organizations ranging from the state Business Council to the Associated General Contractors Associations, comes amid the debate over the renewal of the 421a tax abatement.

The debate has further strained the public relationship between Mayor Bill de Blasio — who is pushing for an expansion of affordable housing under the abatement — and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been sympathetic to the push for organized labor to include a prevailing wage component for construction workers.

The business groups, in the letter dated Monday, write that including a prevailing wage for construction workers would add to the already challenging effort to build in New York City.

“Building affordable housing in one of the world’s most expensive and densely populated areas always has challenges. This is especially true when the project is union built,” the letter states. “In New York City, there is a 30% differential between the cost of union and non-union construction. Requiring a prevailing wage requirement for construction work will be a significant setback in the City’s efforts to build more affordable housing.”

The tax abatement is due to expire this month, along with rent control regulations for New York City.

Cuomo said in a radio interview this week that he would keep lawmakers in Albany as long as it takes should rent control lapse beyond the June 15 deadline (in previous years, lawmakers and the governor have approved extenders to keep rent control in place while a more permanent agreement is reached).

Both Cuomo and de Blasio on Monday, meanwhile, sought to dial back their recent rhetoric over the abatement. Cuomo called the mayor’s plan over the weekend a “sweetheart deal” to developers, but followed up by insisting he and de Blasio are still friends.

Cuomo added that he and the mayor want to reach a compromise on a range of issues facing New York City and the state this month.

The mayor, meanwhile, called Cuomo’s comments in a radio interview “constructive.”

“I thought his comments today were constructive and it’s not surprising that each of us has strong views, but I also think there is a lot we can get done,” de Blasio said.

Nevertheless, labor groups are pushing forward with the campaign to include the prevailing wage component for consturction workers (de Blasio’s plan does have prevailing wage component, but for the service industry).

A3515 S3213 PW Private Work Letter by Nick Reisman