Legislative Alert – May 5, 2017

President’s Message


This week, I was proud to stand with the NYS Building Trades and the thousands of our members who came to Albany to support fixing our public works laws. The spirit and intent of these laws is in urgent need of repair making this a priority for the entire labor movement.

The NYS Constitution clearly requires that when we use taxpayer dollars to fund projects, that basic standards should apply. This includes worker protections for those who get the job done, like prevailing rate, apprenticeships and other labor, transparency and accountability measures that protect workers and taxpayers alike.

The laws that implement the constitutional public works protections are supposed to ensure that taxpayers are investing in and supporting New York’s workforce, not supporting the abuse of workers with the creation of low-wage jobs.

Unfortunately, years of whittling away at state laws that implement the public works requirement have left us with a disjointed and broken application. This is because the constant onslaught of court and administrative decisions have re-defined the intentions of those laws. Adding to the confusion is the creation of quasi-public entities and “alternative contract methods” that too often bypass public works requirements. Combined with a sporadic enforcement and sometimes blatant disregard for the law, the intent of the voters has been distorted almost beyond recognition.

Simple clarification of the laws will restore compliance with the Constitution.

It is time to go back to basics, clarify that taxpayer funded projects are public works projects, and pass A5498 and S2975.


Mario Cilento, President

Call To Action

Monday, May 8, 2017, 1:00 p.m.

100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY

Issue of the Week

A5498 Bronson, et al/S2975 Murphy

The New York State constitution requires prevailing rate be paid to workers on public works projects. This basic principle is intended to ensure that constitutional provisions protecting the labor rights of its citizens are respected and that taxpayer dollars are used to create meaningful jobs that strengthen our communities and economy.

Over the years, constant ideological attacks on prevailing rate by well-funded corporate interests have resulted in legal, regulatory and legislative changes that have eroded the intent of the state’s constitutional requirement of prevailing rate.

This bill restores the spirit and intent of the New York State Constitution and ensures that all projects receiving taxpayer resources are defined as “public works,” thus restoring the law to its original meaning and purpose. Furthermore, it will create additional apprenticeship opportunities, creating a path to the middle class for many more New Yorkers.

This bill will not only help working men and women get better paying jobs, it will help create safer workplaces, ensure quality workmanship on public projects and hold contractors and developers accountable.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

For further information contact Mike Neidl at 518-436-8516 or by email information@nysaflcio.org