Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA) President Louis J. Coletti joined with more than 100 advocates to insist New York’s state legislators take action and reform the 240 Scaffold Law.
“For too long, Albany has been held hostage by trial lawyers, who have become the fourth branch of government on this issue,” Coletti said. “Without reform we will build 5,000 fewer classrooms in New York City and be completely unable to achieve the Mayor’s goal of building and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing.
“Additionally, if we fail to make these changes, sky- high insurance premiums will remain a significant barrier to minority and women-owned businesses entering and growing in the industry.” Without meaningful change, critical projects will stall or never break ground, according to the union leader.
In a statement, the BTEA said the Scaffold Law drives up the cost of every public and private construction project by holding owners and builders totally liable in lawsuits for gravity-related injuries, regardless of any contributing fault of a worker.
Coletti and the BTEA are members of the Scaffold Law Reform coalition, and along with their partners, say this reform is essential to the future of the construction in New York State.
Coletti and fellow coalition members believe Scaffold Law reform should be included in 30-day budget amendments.
“This issue is down to whether the legislature will be held hostage to the trial attorneys or they will respond to the needs of the constituents in their communities,” Coletti added. “We’re here to make sure they’re listening to the people who really matter.”
The demonstrations can in the wake of the department of Sheldon SIlver as Speaker of the Assembly, a move that some in Albany have hinted could help with Scaffold Law Reform.
In a report in the local Times Union reports, Tom Stebbins, head of the state Lawsuit Reform Alliance, said Silver’s outside job as an attorney for a major law firm had been a major reason that efforts to reform New York’s legal system have been blocked in the Assembly.
Charlene Obernauer, of the Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, told the newspaper,“Support for the Scaffold Law runs deep throughout the Assembly. We’re confident that the Assembly members are going to continue to support it.”