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Construction & Design

New bill calls for more pay, training for construction workers

A new bill proposed in City Council aims to secure better pay for construction workers on projects receiving government subsidies.

The bill, proposed by Council member Ben Kallos, was introduced earlier this month and calls for affordable housing and economic development projects that receive government subsidies to require prevailing wages for construction workers and provide classroom and on-the-job training.

“Paying construction workers minimum wage on affordable housing projects is only making our City’s housing crisis worse,” Kallos said.

“Moreover, no one should die in a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper training. New York City’s construction workers need to have the right to say no to a dangerous work situation.”

The bill applies to any city project receiving at least $1 million, is 100,000 s/f or more, or is a residential building with more than 50 units. Currently, companies that are working on direct city contracts are expected to pay prevailing wages for its workers..

Kallos’ bill would extend this to projects that are receiving any type of government funding.

His bill also calls for the disclosure of the government subsidies, the number of jobs created, and fines of $10,000 per day for thos companies that fail to comply.

“Anyone who believes construction workers can support their families, send their kids to college, do all the things we associate with stable middle-class lives, on $20.00 per hour is kidding themselves,” said John O’Hare, managing director of the Buildin g Contractors Association.

“New York City has the right to make prevailing wage and apprenticeship training a condition to any financial incentive package it offers the private sector. You want the benefits, pay the wages.”

Kallos’ bill draws some similarities to the new 421-a program, now called Affordable New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed that affordable housing program into law in 2017. It requires companies to guarantee certain wage requirements if they were working on a project seeking tax exemptions.

For projects seeking the tax benefits in Manhattan below 96th Street, workers must get paid $60 per hour and for those in certain areas of Brooklyn and Queens, the required payrate is $45 an hour. Like Kallos’ bill that calls for disclosure, Affordable

New York requires developers to submit a certified payroll of their workers for an independent monitor to verify.

For many in the industry, Kallos’ bill represents even more financial and safety security for years to come.

“NYC subsidies support hundreds of so-called “economic development” and affordable housing projects where construction workers are routinely paid nothing more than subsistence wages for the dangerous and debilitating work they do and receive little or no training in their trade or craft,” said Jeremiah Sullivan Jr, president of New York’s Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers union.

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