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Austin Approves New Standards: Living Wage, OSHA Training, Worker’s Comp, Local Hire

image via Workers Defense Project

image via Workers Defense Project

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The Austin City Council has approved a resolution that will require worker protection standards for all construction workers on non-residential commercial projects. The resolution is part of a voluntary expedited permitting process designed to help cut down on long and costly wait times. Austin has struggled to keep up with the rate of its own growth, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the city’s permit application system:

The slow permitting process spotlighted in a city-sponsored report last year has long been a problem for both the city — which says it is bogged down by the large number of applications — and developers, who say the extended waiting period costs them large sums of money. The expedited permitting program would fast-track applications for those willing to pay a fee, which is yet to be determined, by allowing them to meet with staffers from all the city departments that need to sign off on the permit.

Concerned about what an expedited process would mean for Austin’s construction workers, the Workers Defense Project championed a set of standards through their Better Builder Program. The resolution was approved last week:

Council member Ann Kitchen’s resolution to add worker protections to the city’s expedited permitting process for construction projects passed Thursday. It requires that workers be paid a living wage of $13.03 per hour, OSHA training, worker’s compensation, a 30 percent local hiring goal, compliance with employment laws and a third party on-site monitor to ensure these standards are upheld.

Texas is one of the most dangerous places in America for construction work. More workers die in the Lone Star State than in any other. Read more about the Better Builder Project’s campaign to change this here.


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