The Business Council of New York State, Inc. opposes the Governor's Program Bill that lays out the framework for the siting of gaming facilities, the application process, fees, payments and minimum requirements for a license.
Our opposition to this bill is focused on its improper classification of these privately financed and operated facilities as "public works" projects that subjects their construction to burdensome and anti-competitive labor requirements.
Publicly financed construction projects, known as "public works," are subject to prevailing wage requirements that contractors and sub-contractors must meet. Any casino facility licensed pursuant to this bill would be deemed a "public work," apparently based on the fact that a state issued license would be required. This is an unprecedented intrusion into privately financed construction projects. It also sets an alarming precedent that could lead to the state deeming any project that requires a state license a "public works" project, to be subject to prevailing wage and other "public works" requirements. This will discourage new construction and improvements throughout the state, particularly in upstate New York.
We also oppose the bill's proposal to require project labor agreements on the privately financed construction of gaming facilities, which includes any ancillary hospitality operation. This is inappropriate since 77% of workers in construction in New York State choose not to be union members. These requirements have the effect of shutting out more than three quarters of the experienced construction workers in our state.
The taxpayer's interest are better served when the contractor can otherwise complete the requirements of the job and present the lowest bid, with the best value, without the presence of a project labor agreement and the increased labor costs that it would impose.
We have strong opposition to other aspects of this bill, including the mandating of minority and women owned business enterprise goals set for gaming facilities, which under this bill would be treated as state agencies for purposes of these contracts. Additionally, expecting MWBEs to abide by the stringent labor requirements including, project labor agreements, labor peace agreements and participating in DOL approved apprenticeship programs is unrealistic given the size of many MWBE firms and will preclude them from participating in these opportunities.
Lastly, we are opposed to the bill's proposal to prohibit applicants or those holding a gaming license from making political contributions. No such restriction is proposed for a labor union that represents or seeks to represent the workers at these facilities.
For these reasons, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. opposes these provisions of the bill and urges the Governor and the Legislature to reconsider.