New York State Construction Industry Council UPDATE
Staff Contact: Johnny Evers
April 10, 2018
Senator Akshar to Lead Senate Labor Committee
On April 9, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan announced the selection of Fred Akshar as the new Chair of the Senate Labor Committee. The Senator has been a great friend to The Business Council, having championed Workers’ Comp Reform in the 2017 session and standing firm on having the reauthorization of Article 15-A of the Executive Law (the law that authorizes the State’s MWBE program) taken out of the budget and simply extended for 1 year. This extension will insure that construction, and other industries, are heard in the renewal process and our concerns are addressed prior to December 31, 2019. The Senator has also been a champion for not extending prevailing wage to private work projects. We congratulate him on this appointment.
NYSCIC Meeting a Success
The March 27 meeting of the New York State Construction Industry Council (NYSCIC) was a huge success, drawing over three dozen construction firms and construction-related trade association members. The Council discussed the state budget (then being drafted and debated), the issue of MWBE re-authorization, prevailing wage issues, and a brief workers’ comp update. NYSCIC was addressed by David Brockmann of Gallagher Insurance on the issues of construction insurance and workers’ compensation, and by Senator Fred Akshar of the 52nd Senate district. Senator Akshar expressed his support for The Business Council’s position of having the MWBE reauthorization taken out of the budget process and opposing any prevailing wage expansion language in the state budget. NYSCIC was also addressed by Michael Elmendorf of Associated General Contractor of NYS (AGC). AGC has been a leading voice on the MWBE issue, having sued numerous State agencies in the process of seeking to obtain the data upon which the goals for various contracts had been based. NYSCIC chair, John Ahearn of Rifenburg Construction, ended the meeting with a discussion of appointing a committee to study workforce development from the construction industry point of view. This committee will draw together construction firms and associations from our membership to discuss a way to have New York State focus on this neglected part of the employment world. Interested members should contact Johnny Evers. After the NYSCIC meeting, many members of the Council left to lobby various legislators on the issues discussed at the meeting.
With the adoption of a state budget just prior to the start of the April 1, 2018 deadline, a few construction issues were taken up. The MWBE proposal by the Governor was rejected, as was the amended proposal introduced in the Assembly one-house resolution, and instead a one-year extender of the MWBE program was passed (S.7509-C / A.9509-C, Part OOO), making the new sunset date December 31, 2019 (The Senate had not included an MWBE provision in their one-house resolution). Since the MWBE provisions were not due to expire until December 31, 2018, The Business Council lobbied to have the provision taken out of the budget to afford more time to study the issue and get more reform included in the final version. With the one year extension now law, we will again be lobbying the legislature to include several reforms to the program to insure it is working as designed under Executive Law Article 15-A. The Business Council will continue to focus on the issue to insure our members are heard in this important area.
The final state budget document included some expansion of the use of the design-build method of construction delivery, but the expansion is limited to specified programs, all of which must also include a project labor agreement (PLA). The state budget authorized the use of Design-Build with a PLA in the following projects under S.7509-C / A.9509-C: Rikers Island Project (Part KKK), “NYC Housing Modernization Investment Act” (Part LLL), and NYS BQE Project (Part QQQ).
Prevailing Wage Legislation
As discussed at the March 27 Construction Council meeting, The Business Council will continue to oppose the expansion of prevailing wage to projects that are not public work. The Business Council and many other construction industry trade associations successfully lobbied the Legislature not to include any prevailing wage expansion language in the state budget. However, now that the state budget has passed, we must insure that other bills such as the Murphy-Bronson bill (S.2975-A / A.5498-A) are not passed during the remainder of the session. This bill would have a dramatic impact on private work that has any source of state funding. In so doing, the work would be subject to prevailing wage thus inflating the cost of the project. The Business Council has issued a memo against this bill.