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Oct
2016
27

Building Trades: “Irresponsible Developers” to Blame for NYC’s Non-Union Construction Deaths

NYC Building Trades president Gary LaBarbera

NYC Building Trades president Gary LaBarbera


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The City of New York saw yet another construction worker die on the job last week. The Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a stop work order immediately after the accident, which occurred at a Brooklyn hotel site. New York City has experienced a slew of fatal construction accidents of late, prompting local building trades unions to call for stricter enforcement of safety standards:

“Once again, we mourn the loss of life on a construction site in New York City,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

“Far too often, irresponsible developers hire contractors who don’t adhere to strict safety standards or employ highly skilled workers. The City of New York and real estate industry must make safety on construction sites a top priority and be vigilant before an accident occurs, not afterwards.”

Organized labor frequently points out that union jobsites are safer, and workforces better trained, than their non-union counterparts. Now, the Committee on Housing and Buildings is collecting data that could prove it:

The chair of New York City’s Committee on Housing and Buildings is calling on the city to classify construction safety incidents as either union or nonunion…Councilman Jumaane Williams said tracking accidents by whether or not the workers are union or nonunion could provide real data on “who’s safe and who isn’t.”

There were 433 accidents and 471 injuries on construction sites in 2015 — twice the number that the city recorded in 2014. According to the Department of Buildings, there were also 12 construction site deaths, up from eight in 2014.

It was recently revealed that some construction deaths have even gone “unrecorded” by the de Blasio administration.

In April of this year, the Wall Street Journal noted that unions are losing ground in New York City’s private construction sector:

New York’s construction unions are suffering big losses in market share, as one of the country’s last strongholds for organized labor has started cracking.

The city’s largest construction firms are declining to renew collective bargaining agreements with unions, opening the door for more nonunion workers and sending the clearest signal yet that once-mighty construction trade groups are losing their grip on private-sector construction.

The coinciding spate of accidents is no coincidence, the unions contend.

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