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NYS CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES - JANUARY 18, 2005

 

ATTENDANCE

Jeff Cintula, LeChase Construction Services
Jerry Cunningham, Building Contractors Association
Nick DuBray, The Business Council of NYS
Jeff Elmer, GCA
Jack Endryck, BIE of NYS
Diana Georgia, Coppola Ryan McHugh Riddel
Earl Hall, Syracuse Builders Exchange
Belinda Heckler, The Vandervort Group, LLC
Todd Helfrich, Builders Exchange of Rochester
Aaron Hilger, Builders Exchange of Rochester
Joe Hogan, GBC of NYS
Jean Kase, RBA & Builder Partners
Kerry Kirwan, The Business Council of NYS
Robert LaBombard, Lovell Safety Management
Barry Lovell, Lovell Safety Management
Christopher Lindsay, Eastern Contractors Association
Victor Macri, Jr., VMJR Companies
Rebecca Meinking, ABC
Mike Misenhimer, Empire State Subcontractors Association
John Nerney, ABC
Barbara Rodriguez, AIA New York State
Thomas Walsh, Jackson Lewis (ABC)
Jeff Zogg, GBC of NYS

Meeting Minutes

Welcome and Introductions

Aaron Hilger, Builders Exchange of Rochester and Chairman of the New York State Construction Industry Council, opened the meeting.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

A brief discussion was had on the renewal of ADR. Although it was written to apply to many industries, it has only been applied in construction. It has been effective thus far and more information will be available as soon as the bill is re-filed this year.

Payroll Limitation Law

A discussion was had on the sunset of the Payroll Limitation law on 12/31/05. The committee members expressed that the experience with payroll limitation has been mixed. The committee was asked to review this issue and provide feedback during the next meeting as to whether or not it's worth renewal.

Worker's Compensation Update

Kerry Kirwan, legislative analyst for the workers' compensation committee, provided an update on the proposed rate increase. Ms. Kirwan reported that the Department of Insurance had held a hearing on January 7, 2005 to discuss the 9.5 percent increase which was proposed last year. Ms. Kirwan noted this was the second proposed rate increase as the Department had rejected an earlier proposal of 29 percent. No decision has been made on the 9.5 percent increase.

Procurement Bills Affecting the Construction Industry

Jeff Zogg of General Building Contractors of New York State lead the discussion concerning 5 bills. The bills included: A.3730; A.8264; A.9010; A.9786; and S.7628. The committee is urged to review and monitor these bills before the next meeting. It will be on the agenda at the request of Christopher Lindsay of Eastern Contractors Association, Inc.

Guest Speaker - - Assemblyman Joe Morelle

Assemblyman Joe Morelle discussed Labor Law 240/241 and how NYSCIC continued to create awareness on the issue last year. However, problems did occur with the Senate withdrawing the bill and the resignation of a sponsor in the Assembly. He also expressed his disappointment that the issue was not mentioned in the Governor's State of the State address this year.

Assemblyman Morelle's main focus for the meeting was to discuss the recent NYS Court of Appeals decision in Cahill v. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. This decision provides greater clarity to describing a recalcitrant worker in the construction industry. However, this definition is still not broad enough. He describe the benefits the Cahill case could have on our position for reform but noted because of its narrow fact pattern, the response to the decision will be minimal. The decision doesn't help bring insurance rates down and doesn't help or create a fairer playing field in New York. This is because when the next case is heard, if the employer is slightly culpable, they still bear the burden and are fully responsible.

The Assemblyman adamantly urged the committee to continue support of last years position for reform. He cited that originally, the goal was for repeal of 240/241, but there is a growing consensus that repeal is not feasible and it should be broken down into reform. Although reform may not necessarily be the solution, it is the right start to create the fairness we are after. Last year, the committee supported A.7213 (Morelle) and S.1710 (Volker). They have yet to be re-filed for the 2005 session. The committee agreed that the next step should be to clarify and tweak the bill language in order to use the Cahill decision in our favor.

Labor Law Reform Discussion

Jack Endryck stated the association he represents, The Building Industry Employers of New York State (BIE), recently voted to change its position on Labor Law Reform and the support of S.1710/A.7213 to one of urging complete repeal of Sections 240/241 of the State Labor Law. The position change was a result of BIE's Board of Directors feelings that the reform bills do not do enough to protect the rights of employers. Mr. Endryck asked NYSCIC to reconsider its position and support complete repeal.

Following discussion, it was agreed that NYSCIC would continue its support of S.1710/A.7213 with changes that would reflect the two recent NYS Appellate Court discussions that came down in 2004 favoring employers rights under 240/241. Jeff Zogg of the General Building Contractors of New York State stated he would work, with NYSCIC input, to see if the language could be changed in the two bills to reflect these decisions.

When asked by several in attendance if BIE would change its position if it came to the "11th hour" on these two bills, Mr. Endryck stated his association was very aware of the political realities in Albany and his association would not stand in the way of an agreement if such an agreement provided no less than what the current bills call for. Mr. Endryck also offered that BIE's position change may even help to speed up the process.

Additional Activities of NYSCIC

The committee has suggested collecting data as to the general state of the construction industry to support our cause. Suggested material to review include both the Comp Watch data collected by TBC last year and the Traveler's Insurance Data that illustrated savings if 240/241 were repealed. The Business Council will begin to collect and organize this data to create a survey to look into a variety of issues such as: the construction costs in NY compared to other states; liability issues; and workers' compensation issues.

The committee also discussed the idea of holding regional NYSCIC meetings. Members are encouraged to provide feedback on this idea for various locations.

Next Meeting

NYSCIC will hold its next meeting on March 8, 2005 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Business Council offices in Albany.

The Task Force on the Annualization of Prevailing Wage will also meet on March 8 from 1:00 to 2:45 at the same location. Anyone interested in participating in this task force or in receiving additional information, should contact Rebecca Meinking at the Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. Ms. Meinking may be reached by phone at (315) 463-7539 or by e-mail at meinking@abcnys.org.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm. Members were reminded that The Business Council's Annual Legislators' Reception would start at 6:00 pm at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Albany.