In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Teachers Retirement System today pledged $1 billion in new investments for infrastructure projects, including improvements to transportation, power, water, communications and housing in New York City and throughout the state that was hit hard by the massive November storm.
In addition to repairing and upgrading facilities used by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, the infrastructure fund could create thousands of jobs.
The $1 billion pledge is part of a multiyear Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action made by the AFL-CIO, AFT and partners in 2011.
At the New York City press conference announcing the investment pledge, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew said that before the devastating hurricane hit, the union had been studying investment strategies for the teacher pension fund that would “help meet New York’s pressing needs for repairing and updating our roads and bridges, our water and power systems and middle-income housing.”
Hurricane Sandy has brought those needs into keener focus, and I am happy to stand here today and say that the teachers of New York City are taking a leadership role in helping to rebuild our city and state.
Former President Bill Clinton called the $1 billion pledge “a remarkable commitment.”
It represents a very significant step forward in meeting the entire AFL-CIO CGI commitment to bring Americans back to work, to bring inefficient buildings up to speed and, in this case, to putting us on the path to a sustainable future for New York City.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said the investment “is another example of America’s educators stepping up to not only educate and care for our children but to also revitalize our communities, create jobs and strengthen our economy.”
All projects will be rated on the basis of their return and the fund’s fiduciary standards and potential investments could range from repairing bridges to rebuilding housing destroyed by the hurricane.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said:
This infusion of private capital is like seed money that will allow us to address not only the recovery from Sandy but also the underlying infrastructure challenges that our communities face.
New York City Comptroller John C. Liu told reporters:
This innovative plan could help us rebuild the city, create jobs, and yield solid returns on our pension funds. Together we can produce great projects that are also sound investments.
The overall labor CGI commitment was made by a coalition that includes the AFL-CIO, AFT, AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), Union Labor Life Insurance (ULLICO), AFSCME, AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust (HIT), AFL-CIO Working for America Institute (WAI), Fire Fighters (IAFF), NEA, SEIU and other partners.
Working with money managers, asset consultants, pension funds, developers and federal, state and local governments, the Commitment to Action will finance the construction and repair of quality public infrastructure, which will result in at least $10 billion in workers' capital invested in this area within five years.
The CGI Commitment also includes a pledge to invest $10 to $20 million in energy efficient retrofits and an effort to train 40,000 new apprentices and 100,000 mid-career construction workers in the skills necessary to work on 21st century infrastructure projects. To date, the commitment has reached more than $2.7 billion of its total goal.