De Blasio, construction unions close to a deal on extra training requirements: report

REBNY questions if the mandates would "throw" qualified nonunion workers off job sites

Bill de Blasio and John Banks
Bill de Blasio and John Banks

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s construction union leaders are nearing a deal on worker-training requirements, a program the real estate industry is concerned about.

In response to a recent uptick in injuries and deaths, City Hall is proposing a requirement that all workers be trained between 54 and 71 hours, according to a memo obtained by Politico.

De Blasio is said to be extremely upset when an on-site accident happens.

“Several people have said he yells at staff whenever a death occurs,” one source told Politico.

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The proposal would require an extra 30 hours of training for supervisors, and certain workers would have to undergo additional “task specific training,” such as working in confined spaces and with scaffolding.

The initiative is a boon for the construction trades, which already provide training and could use the extra requirements to boost membership. But the mayor’s plan does not call for an apprenticeship mandate, which many unions had originally pushed for and the real estate industry opposes.

“We share the goal of the mayor and City Council that every construction worker goes home in the same condition that he or she arrived to the site,” Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks said in a prepared statement. “Additional safety training is clearly needed, but how much, for how long and by when are critical questions. It would be sad irony if otherwise-qualified, non-union construction workers and contractors who are also city residents are thrown off the job because of overly stringent requirements that don’t ultimately promote safety.”

The proposal would need the approval of the City Council, which recently passed a series of construction safety bills.

New York Building and Construction Trades Council president Gary LaBarbera, who was nominated for a seat on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has lobbied for the apprenticeship program. [Politico]Rich Bockmann