Associations line up to oppose, support NYC construction safety bill

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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) New York State Conference has joined a coalition battling a controversial construction safety bill that they believe disadvantages minorities, Real Estate Weekly reports.

Members of the “Putting New Yorkers to Work” coalition also include Public Housing Communities, Inc., One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York, The Real Estate Board of New York (RENBY), the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), New York Construction Alliance (NYCA), and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Empire State Chapter.

The organization has launched a multimedia campaign including a TV ad titled “Don’t Take My Job Away,” in a bid to stop the passage of the bill, which is scheduled for an Aug. 24 City Hall vote.

Intro 1447, “Construction site safety training for workers and repealing section 3310.10.2 of the New York city building code,” was first proposed to the City Council in January.

The proposed municipal legislation, backed by organized labour groups, aims to require construction workers to take part in apprenticeship programs and would also require workers on construction sites of at least four stories to undergo a ten-hour safety training program under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA training is currently only required for workers in buildings at least 10 stories.

However, the opposing coalition argues that the proposed requirements are unfair, and would exclude local residents from construction jobs even if they have already received safety training.

The group asserts that the bill’s mandate requiring a minimum of 59 training hours  is “arbitrary,” adding an undue burden on those who must take more training to meet the minimum and whom may not be able to afford it, especially residents in low-income communities.

If the municipal law passes, the coalition said it would be to make it too difficult for many construction workers to obtain the mandated training, thus taking jobs away from local residents in low-income communities and giving those same jobs to construction workers who live outside the city and who have “better industry connections.”

“It is a shame to see the City Council consider a bill that would do so much damage to workers of color,” said Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, in a press release. “Passing Intro 1447 would be a setback to civil rights efforts and make it harder for black and brown workers to gain good construction jobs in their communities.”

On the other side, the bill is supported by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York as well as the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust (GNY LECET).

“Construction worker safety is a top priority, and this administration is working hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to create needed protections for the men and women working on New York City’s hard hat sites,” a spokesperson from the Mayor’s Office said in a statement to Real Estate Weekly.