‘Hire local’ executive order signed for construction projects (NY)

By NICK LIPPA
Sept. 28, 2017

Local officials and business owners came together for the signing of a new executive order that focuses on hiring local labor for large construction projects in Erie County.

The First Source Policy, signed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz Wednesday, requires construction projects in Erie County over $250,000 and involving at least three workers to employ qualified local residents, with a focus on hiring individuals from high-poverty areas. That includes 16 zip codes residing in Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Lackawanna, to name a few.

Buffalo NAACP President Rev. Mark Blue said this order will set a benchmark for other areas to follow.

“Getting a chance to move out of poverty, to get them into jobs that they’re skilled at and, hopefully, with the training that’s being done by the city and their Northland Project, bring them skills to where they’re employable not just for one job, but for many jobs,” Blue said.

He said the policy will help urban as well as rural residents.

“It’s equally distributing, let me say, wealth to areas that have received, wealth into areas that have been economically disadvantaged for years,” Blue said. “And also it brings hope to those who have not had an opportunity to be employed or even underemployed.”

(Read More)

NYC establishes safety training requirements for construction workers

October 4, 2017

New York – The New York City Council, after eight months of bill editing, on Sept. 27 unanimously approved legislation establishing construction safety training requirements and programming.

The bill was introduced in January in response to the high number of construction site deaths in the city – at press time, 40 since 2014, according to a New York Times report. The legislation was changed twice to satisfy stakeholders – including the city’s real estate board, independent contractors and immigration officials – who were worried that day laborers would not be able to afford the training. The bill was revised to include $5 million to help fund their training.

Fines of up to $25,000 will be levied on sites using untrained workers, and workers can keep working until December 2018 if they have at least 10 hours of training completed by March. Permits for work can be withheld or denied renewal if the employer cannot prove all workers on a project have the required training.

Also included in the legislation, which went into effect immediately:
  • Workers must complete between 40 to 55 hours of safety training. The Department of Buildings will control the administration of the hours.
  • Workers can satisfy their training requirement with completion of an alternative training program, but only if DOB allows it after comparing it to the bill’s established training program

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Union workers win $76M from Midtown construction firm that used alter-ego company to skirt collective bargaining (NY)

Ginger Adams Otis
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, September 21, 2017, 2:41 PM

A Midtown construction company accused of creating a bogus business to avoid union wages and union benefit payments has to cough up $76 million to the workers it cheated.
In a decision with potentially far-reaching consequences for city developers, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Colleen McMahon found that Navillus Tile fraudulently invented an alter-ego company to try and get around collectively bargained agreements it had with several major city construction unions.

The company also had one of its legitimate offshoot businesses act as a Navillus stand-in on a job it wanted to do non-union, the ruling found.

The collusion also involved real estate giant Related, one of the city’s most prolific developers.

It knowingly engaged with one of the alter-ego companies on its Upper East Side luxury development on 92nd St., Judge McMahon’s ruling said.

In her scathing, 95-page ruling delivered late Thursday after a three-year court battle, McMahon said that Navillus’ founder, Donal O’Sullivan had “perjured himself” more than once and noted that another company principal was “obviously lying” in some testimony.

The $76 million in back wages and contributions to health, pension and general welfare funds will be split between the Metal Lathers Local 46, Cement and Concrete Workers District Council, Cement Masons Local 780, the District Council of Carpenters and Teamsters Local 282.

They came together in 2014 to launch the complicated lawsuit against Navillus Tile, which had signed collective-bargaining agreements with all of them for a variety of jobs on construction sites.

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Marino Introduces New Jobs Law (NY)

By Jim Rondenelli August 15, 2017 12:17 PM

Joined by local union leaders and workers at City Hall, Utica Councilman Joe Marino introduced legislation he says will bring good paying jobs to Utica and skilled craftsmanship to City projects.

Marino says the new law would require contractors that win a bid in the City of Utica over $250,000 to have an apprenticeship program built into their company.

He says the jobs law would help put families back to work. Marino says under the apprenticeship program, they’ll get to earn while they learn and become skilled labor under the tutelage of skilled craftsmen.

Marino says there are about 750 certified apprenticeship contractors throughout the state.
Representatives from LIUNA Local 35, Plumber And Pipefitter Local 112 and IBEW Local 43 attended today’s announcement.

(See Article)

Labor leader: Prevailing wage protects workers from ‘race to bottom’

By Matt Glynn , and Jonathan D. Epstein
Published June 30, 2017 | Updated June 30, 2017

New York State has had a prevailing wage law since 1894, and supporters say it’s needed to protect workers from being undercut and underpaid by contractors and government agencies. They also argue that prevailing wage laws help ensure that the size of public contracts – and the potential for a bidding race to the bottom to win them – don’t destabilize local and regional construction markets.

But critics say the laws hurt free-market competition, drive up costs on public projects and provide little real 30benefit to the economy other than protecting labor unions.

Conservative researcher E.J. McMahon and union advocate Richard Lipsitz Jr. recently sat down with The News to talk about the controversy over the state’s prevailing wage requirements.

Richard Lipsitz Jr. sees the prevailing wage law as protection against the “race to the bottom.”

The president of the Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, an umbrella organization covering 100,000 union members in six counties, Lipsitz has been active in the labor movement since the 1970s, and the federation he leads has been outspoken in the drive to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Q: How does the state’s prevailing wage benefit construction workers?

A: It is a wedge against the race to the bottom in the construction field. Without provisions like prevailing wage, there would be no guarantee that a contractor wouldn’t go down and pay the minimum that he has to or she has to. It’s a rule that keeps this race from the bottom from being carried out in the construction field.

And it also helps with the workers in all other fields. The idea of a prevailing wage, as a good wage and benefits package that people can live on, is mostly talked about in the construction field. But the Commerce Department keeps a prevailing wage on all kinds of occupations in New York State, not just for building trades. So I don’t think it’s quite right to just see it as a construction trades question.

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Last minute legislation would close stolen wages loophole (NY)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

ALBANY – A wage theft law is on the books in New York State, but there is an effort to close a loophole that allows guilty businesses to hide assets and avoid paying what is owed.

Susan Zimet of Greene County, executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, is lobbying to have to close that loophole in the next several days.

“We are trying to do what is called the ‘SWEAT’ legislation, which is ‘Securing Wages Earned Against Theft’ to basically put a lien on the business at the very beginning of the lawsuit so the assets can’t be moved around and if somebody wins, they can end up actually getting the back wages,” she said.

The measure passed in the Assembly last year and Zimet expects it to be approved again this year.

She is pushing to have the bill, which is curently in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by John Bonacic (R, Mt. Hope), approved before lawmakers adjourn in about one week.

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NYC invests $10M to boost minority, women participation in construction

Kim Slowey
June 22, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • New York City has created a $10 million fund to assist women- and minority-owned businesses win construction projects, according to Crain’s New York Business.
  • The money will go toward paying for up to $500,000 of surety bonds per contract. City contractors are required to furnish the bonds, which guarantee they will satisfactorily perform work and pay their bills, but they are difficult to obtain for smaller companies without a track record of completed projects.
  • Aside from helping women- and minority-owned firms become successful, New York City building officials said the program will help other contractors who are required to hire a certain percentage of these firms but can’t find enough of them to meet their mandated quotas.

Dive Insight:

The city aims to issue $16 billion worth of contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses by 2025, and the bond assistance program should help it meet that goal.
Considering that federal and state governments spend hundreds of billions on public construction work and typically set aside 5% to 10% for MBEs and WBEs, the potential payoff is substantial. However, many contractors have reported difficulty finding enough qualified firms.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Public Works Contractor Charged With Wage Theft Of Nearly $700K

Defendant Allegedly Failed To Pay $691,040 In Prevailing Wages And Benefits To Ten Workers Performing Construction On Bronx Public Schools.

BY LONG ISLAND NEWS & PR – PUBLISHED: MAY 03 2017

New York, NY – May 3, 2017 – Today, Attorney General Eric T. Schneideman and New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced the arrest of contractor Vickram Mangru on charges that he underpaid wages and benefits to workers on a publicly-funded New York City construction project. The arrest is part of an ongoing investigation into widespread allegations of prevailing wage theft at New York City public works projects.

Contracted to perform work on several New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) public schools in the Bronx between December 2012 and April 2014, Mangru – while doing business as Vick Construction out of Valley Stream, New York -was charged with allegedly cheating six workers out of $301,683 in wages. Vick Construction and Mangru had previously been debarred and banned for a five-year period from performing public work projects by the New York City Comptroller’s Office for failing to pay proper prevailing wages to workers. On December 31, 2013, Mangru entered into a settlement agreement, admitting he underpaid workers by $34,347 in prevailing wages and supplements.

Undeterred, Mangru allegedly continued to operate in several public schools and continued to pay well below proper prevailing wage rates, forming AVM Construction in January 2014. AVM Construction was purportedly owned by Mangru’s son Ravi Mangru and his wife Gayatri Mangru, who both claimed to be the company’s president. However, according to workers, Mangru ran the day to day operations of AVM Construction, including directly supervising the work and paying employees.

Between April 2014 and February 2015, Mangru is alleged to have continued working on multiple NYCDOE school projects in the Bronx. An investigation determined that Mangru, now operating under the umbrella of AVM Construction, allegedly failed to pay proper prevailing wages to ten workers on those school projects by an additional $389,357 during the ten-month period.

In total, Mangru allegedly failed to pay $691,040 in prevailing wages and benefits to ten workers, from December 2012 to February 2015.

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Diversity in the New York City union and nonunion construction sectors

Press Releases • March 2, 2017

A new report by EPI President Lawrence Mishel finds that New York City’s union construction sector has become significantly more racially diverse in the past two decades and that union construction workers earn substantially more than nonunion construction workers, leading to an increased economic benefit for black and Hispanic communities.

Using newly developed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics to analyze the racial composition of blue-collar union and nonunion construction employment, Mishel finds in Diversity in the NYC construction union and nonunion sectors that New York City’s union construction sector employs a greater share of black workers than the nonunion construction sector. In 2014, black workers accounted for 21.2 percent of employment in union construction, versus 15.8 percent in nonunion construction.

Unions have also drawn more black and Hispanic workers into construction through apprenticeship programs funded jointly by unions and construction contractors, which provide wages and benefits to workers while they learn job-related skills. The share of union apprentices that are people of color was over 60 percent in 2014, more than double the share in 1994.

Hispanic and black workers in construction unions earn 34.5 percent and 36.1 percent more than nonunion Hispanic and black construction workers, respectively. Because black workers have a greater presence in the union construction sector and are paid far more, collective bargaining in New York City greatly boosts overall annual wages to the black community from construction by $152 million each year.

(Read More)

(Press Release)

EXCLUSIVE: Cuomo to propose bill that clamps down on wage theft from out-of-state companies (NY)

KENNETH LOVETT
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, January 7, 2017, 9:00 PM

 

ALBANY – Gov. Cuomo is set to propose legislation that will allow the state to aggressively go after wage theft in New York, the Daily News has learned.

The bill, to be announced as part of the governor’s State of the State agenda he’ll be releasing this week, would hold the top 10 officials from out-of-state limited liability companies, or LLCs, personally financially liable for unsatisfied judgments for unpaid wages.

The legislation will empower the state Labor Department commissioner to enforce such liabilities.

The idea, Cuomo said, is to recover more money employees were cheated out of when businesses went bankrupt – and went on to create spinoff limited liability companies registered in other states or hid their assets in other ways.

“New York is committed to ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and has zero tolerance for those who seek to exploit their workers,” Cuomo said.
“With this proposal we will help ensure that no matter where bad actors try to hide, they will not be able to skirt their obligations to hard-working New Yorkers. ”

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