November 15, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—On the same day that Public Citizen released a report revealing how New York City can reduce the risk of construction fatalities by requiring the use of registered apprentices on publicly-funded construction projects, Build Up NYC members took to City Hall to call on the City Council to pass the Safe Jobs Act. Watch Video
At the rally, Lenore Friedlaender, Vice President with 32BJ SEIU, said that the union is in support of the legislation (Intro. 1169) because of the growing fatalities at construction sites throughout the city.
“Part of what the law says that we’re pushing for in the city council is if a real estate developer gets a lot of public financing for a big project [then] workers should have training from registered apprenticeship programs to make sure they are safe,” said Friedlaender.
City Council member Diana Reyna introduced the Safe Jobs Act bill in October, which would require developers who receive more than $1 million in public funding on a project over 100,000 square feet to disclose information about the company and participate in state-approved training and apprenticeship programs.
New York City is experiencing a widespread building boom since the fallout from the 2008 financial crash. The New York Building Congress released a construction outlook report in October and is forecasting construction spending to grow to as much as $37 billion in 2015. But as construction activity expands and increases, so are injuries and fatalities. Back in June, Kay Gee of OSHA told LaborPress that based on previous construction upswings fatalities might increase again.
Keith Wrightson of Public Citizen, who wrote the report, The Price of Inaction: The Cost of Unsafe Construction in New York City, also spoke at the rally. He said that during 2011 and 2012, 1,513 construction workers lost their lives on the job in the United States; 36 of the fatalities occurred in New York.
“This is of particular concern because New York City construction workers represent only three percent of the economy here in the city, but [those] construction workers represented 24 percent of fatalities,” said Wrightson.
What’s even more shocking, said Wrighton, is that 72 percent of all the fatalities happened on jobs without appropriate training.
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