Training and Transparency for Government Subsidized Projects Proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos

01/18/2017
Training and Transparency for Government Subsidized Projects Proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos

 New York, NY – Government invests billions every year in subsidies for private construction in New York City without training or transparency for the projects. The reintroduction of the Safe Jobs Act (Intro.1432) would require transparency around Federal, State or City government assistance received by developers and contractors whose construction workers would be required to receive training and graduate from State Department of Labor approved programs.
 
“No one should die from a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper education, apprenticeship, and protections for a worker's right to say no to a dangerous situation,” said Council Member Ben Kallos a union-side labor lawyer. “Any project that receives taxpayer dollars must pay a living wage, invest in workers with training and apprenticeship, and provide protection for worker's rights.”
 
Construction-related fatalities remain a serious problem in New York City almost doubling in Fiscal Year 2015 to 10 from an average of 5.5 the previous four years. Injuries have also increased by more than 50% to 324 injured workers in 2015 according to the Department of Buildings. Since 2012, 72% of the injuries at construction sites occurred at locations where employers did not participate in state-approved training or apprenticeship programs that this bill would require.
 
There is little transparency around the taxpayer dollars that are used to incentivize private developers in New York City that including cash payments, tax credits, tax abatements and even public land.  Even less is known about the number of jobs created, the compliance record of the developer and contractors to be awarded assistance. Because government is not involved in the procurement process and is instead giving the taxpayer dollars to private developers prevailing wage laws and training laws do not apply leading workers with less training who are willing to work for less money often take some of these dangerous jobs sometimes to their detriment.
 
The legislation, amended since originally introduced by Council Member Diana Reyna as of Introduction 1169 of 2013, would apply where any level of government provides assistance valued at $1 million or more on a project of 100,000 square feet or residential buildings with more than 50 units, requiring increased training and transparency. In addition to the developer any contractor or sub-contractor with contracts exceeding $35,000 in a year or three times that amount over a longer period would face similar training and transparency requirements.
 
Training for construction workers:

  • Apprenticeship program approved by New York State Department of Labor;
  • Apprentice must have graduated from the apprenticeship program within the previous 24 months or longer;

 Disclosure of all:

  • Government assistances by program and amount;
  • Number and types of jobs created by industry;
  • Contractors on the project and their scope of work;
  • Owners of 10% of more, investors of $250,000 or more, and officers for developer and contractors;
  • Prior or current violations as well as judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings (taxes, bankruptcy, employment, wage, discrimination, health, safety, or other laws) for developers and contractors;
  • Proof of workers compensation and unemployment insurance for all workers;

 Enforcement:

  • Agencies administering government assistance would be required to monitor recipients of benefits;
  • Violation would face fines of up to $10,000 per day and the loss of government assistance;
  • Whistleblowers would receive protections;
  • New York City Comptroller would have additional investigation and enforcement powers;

 Government assistance offered by the Federal, State and City governments as well as their agencies can be discretionary or as-of-right financial assistance and include (but are not limited to):

  • cash payments and grants;
  • loans or bond financing or debt forgiveness;
  • tax abatements, tax exceptions or tax increment financing;
  • filing fee waivers or other fee waivers;
  • energy cost reductions;
  • environmental remediation costs;
  • real property conveyance for less than market value;
  • write-downs in the market value of buildings, lands or leases; and
  • cost of capital improvements related to real property that, under ordinary circumstances, the city would not pay for.

 The legislation uses a combination of training and transparency for private developers and contractors that receive public assistance to make construction safer in New York City.