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NYC Takes on Discrimination in Construction

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Legal & Human Resources

NYC Takes on Discrimination in Construction

A bill moving through NYC's City Council aims to counterbalance controversial construction safety training legislation passed in 2017

By By James F. McClister February 20, 2018
This article first appeared in the February 2018 issue of Pro Remodeler.

A new bill recently passed by New York City Council in a 45-to-2 vote (expected to soon be signed into law) aims to combat discrimination in the construction industry, which many fear became legal in the latter half of 2017. 

Last October, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law Intro 1447-C, a construction safety bill mandating construction worker safety training. The legislation exempted union members, a move that opponents claim unfairly targets immigrant and minority workers, many of whom are independent contractors and don’t have the money to pay for the now-required training. 

A separate study from the Economic Policy Institute last year confirmed that, indeed, the majority of nonunion construction workers in New York are Hispanic (48.6 percent), and that, on average, union construction workers there make 14 percent more than nonunion workers. 

A new bill, passed unanimously in December, is designed to address those problems—or at least ease them. 

It’s called Introduction 1382-B and is the brain child of City Council member Robert Cornegy Jr. The goal of the bill is to increase employment transparency for contractors working on city-funded construction projects (which include both commercial and residential, according to a spokesperson for Councilman Cornegy). It would require contractors working on city-funded construction projects to disclose demographic information of their employees. 

“This information will add much-needed accountability to the awarding of large contracts to developers who promise a diverse work force,” said Councilman Cornegy in a statement. “It will ensure that we in government are meeting our commitment to create a fair and equitable city ... For too long, people of color have been underrepresented in the construction industry.” 

Robi Kirsic, owner of TimeLine Renovations, a design-build firm based in Maspeth but which does work in NYC, said that he sees no issue with the bill, calling it “a chance for people to get employed.”

written by

James F. McClister

James McClister is managing editor for Professional Remodeler.

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