Hochul signs construction wage theft and prevailing wage bills

Governor enacts bills backed by Building Trades, 32BJ

New York /
Sep.September 07, 2021 04:02 PM
Building and Construction Trades Council's Gary LaBarbera, Gov. Kathy Hochul,  32BJ SEIU's Kyle Bragg (Getty, 32BJ)

Building and Construction Trades Council’s Gary LaBarbera, Gov. Kathy Hochul,  32BJ SEIU’s Kyle Bragg (Getty, 32BJ)

Gov. Kathy Hochul is already scoring points with New York’s labor groups.

Hochul on Labor Day signed four measures backed by New York unions, including a bill that will require certain building service employees to be paid prevailing wages and one that will make general contractors liable for wages their subcontractors owe their workers.

Starting next year, condo and co-op buildings where units have an average assessed value of $60,000 or more must pay prevailing wages to building service workers in order to receive a popular property tax abatement known as 467a.

The measure does offer a carveout for buildings with fewer than 30 units, if the average assessed value of units is between $60,000 and $100,000. The exception was a response to criticism that smaller condos and co-ops would struggle to pay union-level wages.

In 2019, the state legislature passed a similar measure, but without a reprieve for smaller buildings. Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo pocket-vetoed that version.

The new law is a win for 32BJ SEIU, which represents more than 2,000 residential door persons, cleaners and maintenance workers who would be affected by the measure.

“These luxury apartment buildings can afford to pay workers the prevailing wage, and frontline essential building service workers who risked their lives to keep New Yorkers safe deserve good pay and benefits,” union President Kyle Bragg said in a statement, referring to the pandemic.

Hochul also signed a bill that forces construction managers to assume responsibility for unpaid wages and benefits on their projects. The measure allows prime contractors to withhold payments to subcontractors who refuse to provide payroll information.

The bill was supported by the construction trades, but faced some pushback from nonunion groups.

“This is a significant step in helping to clean up the industry of unscrupulous contractors and a clear sign that New York will no longer tolerate bad actors consistently taking advantage of workers,” Gary LaBarbera, who heads the state and city chapters of the Building and Construction Trades Council, said in a statement.

On Monday, Hochul also signed a bill that extends the state’s shared work benefits program, allowing employees to receive partial unemployment insurance benefits while working reduced hours. Another measure she signed into law establishes speed violation monitoring systems in work zones.





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