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Construction safety bill falls short on real solutions

Despite concerns raised by many groups, the City Council has passed Intro 1447-C, otherwise known as the construction safety bill.

The Real Estate Board of New York agrees that every worker should receive safety training. However, this legislation fails to address some key concerns.

It is fair to note that the latest version of 1447-C is an improvement from when it started out as an apprenticeship mandate. Nevertheless, it still fails to address REBNY’s basic concerns.

The first concern is simple: does New York City have the adequate capacity to train up to 120,000 non-union construction workers? The answer to this question is just a simple — no.

Currently, there are only 22 training providers approved by the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) that can train non-union workers.  Federal regulations limit certain class sizes to only 40 students.  According to the last census, more the half of the city’s construction workforce are non-native English speakers and twenty percent have less than a high school degree.

As it stands, there is not nearly enough capacity to support the potential crush of people seeking the mandated training courses. On this issue, the facts speak for themselves.

Secondly, how will workers who are not affiliated with a union or contractor – many of whom are minorities or immigrants – pay for the training to keep their jobs? Although the City Council announced that it will cover the costs for some 4,000 workers, this is not enough.

Many of the up to 120,000 workers will be left at risk of not getting a contractor to pay for their training. With no sponsorship and insufficient public funding, these workers will need to pay for training out of their own pockets in order to keep working.

The legislation also fails to include any safeguards to limit fraud.  Every worker will be required to carry a Site Safety Training card in order to work and while the Department of Buildings may require uniformity in the card’s appearance and information, the Department will not be able to verify the cardholder’s training certification.

In fact, the legislation does not call for any independent third-party to verify the training of the cardholder.  This oversight, in the wake of recent news reports about fraud and abuse surrounding OSHA training cards, could lead to abusive practices by training providers and a proliferation of fraudulent safety cards.

Finally, why aren’t all workers subject to the bill’s safety training requirements?

The bill excludes all new building projects 4 stories and below, even though these projects accounted for 80% of all permits and 35 percent of all the construction-related fatalities between 2010 and 2015.

During this period, projects 5 to 9 stories, which will need OSHA10 training immediately, represented only 13 percent  of the work.

Moreover, the legislation establishes a different set of rules for union workers without assessing whether or not such workers have obtained the specific training the legislation is expected to call for.  Six of the last twelve construction workers to die in New York City belonged to a union.

Union officials are quick to argue that 90 percent of construction-related fatalities were on non-union projects – but they ignore the fact that nearly 98 percent of the private sector construction work done in New York City is non-union or open shop according the permits issued by DOB.

The facts warrant that we ensure all construction workers receive basic safety training.

Let me be clear, we all want well trained workers on the site and for them to go home to their families at the end of the day in the same condition that they arrived.

Intro 1447-C might achieve that but it could also divide the construction workforce into the haves and have-nots, with qualified nonunion workers being thrown off job sites as a result.

In other REBNY news:

We invite technology innovators—engineers, computer scientists, software developers, entrepreneurs, and more—to build the future of PropTech by participating in the first #REBNYTech Hackathon 2017 during NYC Real Estate Tech Week.

On Friday, October 13 through Sunday, October 15 at the Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech (335 Madison Avenue), the #REBNYTech Hackathon will bring together 200 of the brightest minds in the property and technology industries to hack cutting edge solutions to real-world challenges faced by the world’s leading real estate companies. Teams will hack solutions to challenges in Real Estate Brokerage, Sustainable Maintenance and Operations, AEC and Development, Cybersecurity, and Geospatial Intelligence faced by NYC real estate companies, to compete for a total of $75,000 in cash and prizes made possible through the support of our newly formed REBNYTech Committee. In addition, competition participants will have the opportunity to connect directly with real estate companies interested in funding new PropTech innovation, and hear from leaders in PropTech and real estate on the latest advances in the industry. We’ve partnered with 24 of the City’s leading universities, organizations, and institutions to broadcast this opportunity to over 60,000 tech-minded New Yorkers. To register your startup or tech company team, visit rebnytechhack.splashthat.com.

Network and hear industry leaders speak about the future of the New York City retail market at our upcoming REBNY Members’ Luncheon, “What’s ‘in Store’ for NYC Retail,” to be held on Wednesday, October 18th from 11:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the New York Hilton Midtown (1335 Avenue of the Americas, Grand Ballroom). Moderator Robin Abrams, Vice Chairman of Retail at Eastern Consolidated, will be joined by experts Michael Goldban, Senior Vice President of Retail Leasing at Brookfield Office Properties; Brad Mendelson, Vice Chairman at Colliers International; and Richard Wagman, Managing Partner at Madison Capital. To purchase tickets or a table at the event sponsored by Donald Zucker Company, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Kalikow, L&L Holding Company, Silverstein Properties, and Vornado Realty Trust, visit the event calendar at rebny.com. Contact [email protected] for information on current and future sponsorship opportunities.

REBNY members: join us for our 29th Annual Residential Deal of the Year Charity & Awards Gala: “Go West” to be held on Thursday, October 26 from 6:00-10:30 p.m. at Metropolitan West (639 West 46th Street).

The biggest celebration of the year for REBNY’s Residential Brokerage Division will honor the industry’s best and brightest leaders and dealmakers, and a portion of the proceeds raised at the charity event will benefit REBNY’s “Member in Need Fund,” which provides grants to residential members who are experiencing a financial crisis or hardship.

The coveted awards to be announced at the event include the NEW Residential Agent of the Year Award, The Henry Forster Award for Lifetime Achievement, The Eileen Spinola Award for Distinguished Service, The Residential Rookie of the Year Award, and awards for the top residential sales and rental deals completed between 2016 and 2017. To reserve your ticket or table, visit rebny.com.

For sponsorship opportunities, email Jeanne Oliver-Taylor at [email protected]

On Friday, October 27, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at our next REBNY Rental Clinic, Jesse Rhinier of City Connections will moderate a discussion among panelists Daniel Itingen of Bold New York, Gary Kiyan of Perfect Solutions Real Estate, and Karla Saladino of Mirador Real Estate on navigating the increasing owner-paid commissions market.

This free-for-members event will take seasoned and new agents through the process of working in this OP environment. Register on rebny.com.

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