Updated legislation could mandate union labor in state projects

The change to the design-build law would apply to projects over $10M

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Negotiations for the renewal of New York’s 2011 “design-build law,” which allows a single development team to submit design and construction plans for a project at the same time, could unravel over a proposed labor provision.

Governor Cuomo added language in his updated budget proposal Thursday that would require a so-called project labor agreement for any project over $10 million — effectively ensuring that all such projects would be built with union labor. The move would codify core principles already in place with agencies like the Department of Transportation, but could cause concern with groups like the Associated General Contractors of New York State.

“We support the concept of design-build,” Michael Elmendorf, chief executive at the association, which includes both union and non-union members, told Crain’s. “But there are likely going to be some significant concerns about [the] new language.”

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The new language would favor union shops, Crain’s said, because they already use uniform labor agreements.

The provision also isn’t expected to have a huge impact on construction in the five boroughs, as such project labor agreements are often already used. But upstate, where organized labor is less prominent, the language could cause problems, Elmendorf told Crain’s. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland