NEW YORK, N.Y.—Members of Laborers Local 1010 and supporters rallied outside the gates of City Hall Sept. 23, to call on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to pass a bill that would increase the number of city construction contracts that must provide apprenticeships.
A mayoral directive stipulates that a state-certified apprenticeship program be used on individual construction contracts and construction-related maintenance contracts with a value of more than $3 million. The bill, Intro 674, would have the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services lower that threshold to $1 million.
That, Local 1010 said in a statement, would create “far more apprenticeship opportunities” and “help ensure direct pathways to a solid career for NYC residents and improved safety and faster completion times on jobsites, thanks to trained and efficient workers.”
“Intro 674 will be an asset to New York City’s economic recovery,” Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said in the same statement. “The expansion of apprenticeship training requirements on city contracts will lift people out of poverty and give them the tools necessary to provide for themselves, their families and give back to their communities.”
“Apprenticeship changed my life — I take pride in my career and am able to provide for myself and my children in a city where it is becoming exceedingly difficult to get by,” said Local 1010 journey worker Neville South. “I’ve learned the necessary skills to build a lifelong career in the construction industry.”
The bill was originally introduced in 2018 by Councilmember Eric A. Ulrich (R-Queens), and a hearing was held on it in September 2019. It has 33 cosponsors, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has also signed on.
Local 1010, based in Whitestone, Queens, represents “rammers and pavers,” road asphalt and paving workers. Lowering the threshold means the city would have to give apprentices work on more road-repair and construction jobs.
“As someone that came into this industry as a bricklaying apprentice, I can personally attest to the value of any apprenticeship program to the greater community and industry,” said Vincent Wade, minority manager for J & D Carrying & Construction Corp., a state-certified minority-business enterprise construction contractor. “I believe that creating a requirement for apprenticeship participation, equally, for all contractors will result in a positive impact on competition and ultimately increase labor and training opportunities for the communities that these projects serve while adding to the availability of local qualified labor.”
“Intro 674 is a bill that’s desperately needed as the New York City economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez.
Patrick Purcell, executive director of New York State Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust and Greater New York LECET, said that “Intro 674 will make job sites safer,” while Shi Greene of Pathways to Apprenticeship and Kathleen Culhane of Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) emphasized that more apprenticeships would create opportunities for more training, career advancement, and well-paying jobs, especially for women and New Yorkers from low-income communities.
A contingent from the New Immigrant Community Empowerment worker center also turned out.
“The mayor must not continue to stand in the way of economic mobility for New Yorkers,” said Local 1010 business manager Keith Loscalzo. “This bill must be passed and signed into law immediately.”