New York, NY – Laborers’ Local 1010 is the Paver and Road Builders Union in New York City. As everyone who lives here or travels through here knows, the skilled work that is done by these union members is crucial to the functioning of the City. With thousands upon thousands of cars, buses and heavy trucks making their way through the streets, bridges and highways of the five boroughs every day, it is only through our reliance on the good work that they do that we can feel secure. These are just some examples of the work they do. LaborPress was privileged to have a chance to learn more about the union from Lowell Barton, Organizing Director and Vice President of the union.
LP: Please provide a brief history of the union – who founded it, and when.
LB: Since 1937, we have been the premier Paver and Road Builders Union of New York City and have worked on every major New York City infrastructure project. Through our partnership with the New York General Contractors Association, and our Independent Contractors, we are currently signatory with over 250 companies. Laborers’ Local 1010 is also proud to represent over 80 MWBE contractors.
LP: What are some of the specific jobs your members work on?
LB: Laborers’ Local 1010 is an affiliate of the New York City Building & Construction Trades Council. We are the only Pavers and Road Builders authorized to participate in all New York City agency-approved project labor agreements. We build streets, bridges and highways throughout the five boroughs of NYC.
Whether it’s road finishing, asphalt milling and paving, formsetting, building sidewalks and curbs, installation of paving blocks, specialty surfaces, playground equipment, road markings or bike and bus lanes, Local 1010 members are on the job performing in a professional, safe, effective, and productive manner.
Our signatory contractors also work in NYC schools, parks, athletic fields and playgrounds, and are always on the cutting edge of technology, finding the most cost-effective ways to complete a job on time and on budget.
Our membership is comprised of the most skilled and knowledgeable construction workers in the industry. Through extensive classroom and on-site training, our members are prepared to work on the most difficult jobs found in the construction industry today.
LP: What are some stand-out projects your members have worked on?
LB: Some projects of note our members have worked on are JFK airport, LaGuardia Airport, Grand Central Interchange, and Van Wick Expressway
LP: Please share a bit of your history and work you do within the labor community.
LB: l became a member of the Laborers Union in 1982 and never looked back. I was born in Rockaway Beach, NY and raised my family in Queens.
I believe in building relationships and community to affect change. I strategically worked with local community groups and elected officials all while coordinating with the Union’s apprenticeship classes. By doing this, I was able to organize training classes that taught apprentices how to pave roads, all while pin-pointing necessary projects in the neighborhood that didn’t have the funding or support to get done, benefiting both the community and the union apprentices.
In 2004, I became an organizer for Laborers’ Local 1010 and continue to do all I can to advocate for workers’ rights to this day.
In 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit, I was active in the recovery and strengthened many relationships in NYC. I served on my Community Board in Manhattan and brought many cases to the NYC comptroller’s office to help rid the system of many bad contractors that have cheated the taxpayers of New York and the workers that live in NYC.
In 2013 I, along with Elisa Rodriguez, created a nonprofit organization called NYC WERC (Worker Education Resource Committee). The organization provides outreach and education to recently immigrated construction workers who face any type of risks. WERC provides worker rights’ training in NYC and hold outreach events attended by OSHA, NYS DOL, NYC Comptroller’s office of Labor Law, NYCOSH, the IRS, and community groups of interest. In 2016, WERC expanded its goals to include providing safety equipment and now distributes hard hats, dust masks, ear plugs, and eye protection to at risk workers. The nonprofit educates the immigrant community and has successfully done so in various languages including Spanish, Punjabi, Urdu, Korean, and Chinese.
During my day to day, I speak with members, contractors, and NYC agencies to advocate that all public monies and projects are built with labor standards that protect all workers and provide family-sustaining careers for New Yorkers.
LP: What are some leadership goals for the union?
LB: Laborers’ Local 1010 leaderships’ goal is to best represent our 2500+ hard-working men and women union members. Our various funds support our members and signatory contractors to make our union stronger.
The Laborers’ Local 1010 Apprentice, Skill Improvement & Training Fund ensures that all our members are New York State and New York City OSHA-certified resulting in our members’ safety. Our Labor Management Fund supports industry advancement for our signatory contractors and ensures that our members have work down the road.
LP: What are some current challenges?
LB: A current challenge we face as a union is getting agencies and the general public to see the long-term benefits of building using a unionized workforce. Too often, non-union contractors cut corners regarding safety and worker wages.
When non-union contractors default on projects, this brings up the costs in other areas including bonding. A project that is not done correctly at the start, New Yorkers must contribute more to have the project redone and fixed. For this reason, keen vetting of contractors is essential on all New York City projects.
LP: How has the infrastructure bill affected work opportunities?
LB: The infrastructure bill will bring work opportunities for a long time. The Laborers have waited for decades for such an investment in our country infrastructure. The infrastructure bill will also bring more union jobs because of the demand for union construction workers. This will allow unions like Laborers’ Local 1010 to continue opening their doors to NYC community members and offer them a family-sustaining career in the unionized construction.