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The city's over-budget, behind-deadline Superstorm Sandy recovery program has been a world of public-relations pain for the de Blasio administration.

But despite a rocky relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio, construction unions have come to his defense this time, trumpeting a Build-it-Back success story: According to a report from Alliance for a Greater New York, a coalition of unions and left-wing community groups, the program has exceeded its goal for Sandy-affected residents to make up 20% of its workforce. Of the 997 workers hired to repair and rebuild homes damaged by the storm, 221 are from Sandy-impacted communities.

And a pre-apprenticeship program trained 108 locals and placed them in rebuilding jobs, surpassing the mayor's commitment to 100 such spots. The unions touted the apprenticeships as "career-track jobs and pathways out of poverty."

The Build-it-Back program got off to a slow start and costs for fixing and elevating homes shot past initial projections. The administration drew the ire of City Council members when the Wall Street Journal reported last month that the mayor planned to move $500 million unilaterally to cover the budget shortfall. A 2014 Department of Investigation report blamed delays and cost overruns on administrative problems and inadequate coordination of the tangled bureaucracy involved in the effort.

The Building and Construction Trades Council is at odds with the mayor over his affordable housing plan, which did not mandate union wages as the unions hoped. The administration has also sided with developers and against the Trades Council in the Albany fight over wage requirements in the 421-a tax break.

But on a smaller scale, some olive branches have been exchanged. The painters' union DC9 recently cemented 105 apprenticeship spots for New York City Housing Authority residents with City Hall. The Housing Authority also signed a project labor agreement with the Trades Council, but it applies only when the authority contracts out work such as renovation and repairs; the agency's NextGen infill projects and other private-public deals are not covered.

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