When unions can’t compete, they turn to city pols to get an edge, and that seems to be what’s driving a City Council bill adding a new mandate for construction workers.
In the name of boosting safety, the bill would force workers to finish an apprenticeship program before working on buildings over nine stories tall. Yet unions run most of those programs — so the bill would cost some non-union workers their jobs, and generally steer more work to union shops.
Good for the non-union — “merit shop” — firms for fighting back. As The Post’s Carl Campanile reported last week, the Associated Builders & Contractors’ New York chapter has pushed the city to probe a Staten Island crane accident that left union worker Antonio Veloso dead. The city says it is investigating the case.
ABC wants equal scrutiny because it says the unions often point to violations — especially fatalities — at non-union job sites.“Union leaders are shamefully quick to use non-union deaths as battle cries, but they go silent when their own are lost,” notes ABC’s Joshua Reap.
The bill, incidentally, wouldn’t even do much for safety — because that’s not a main focus of apprenticeship programs, except as it’s part of building overall skills.
Anyway, apprenticeships are meant for new workers. As city Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler noted at a recent council hearing, “Their impact on mid-career workers is limited, even though experienced workers are just as much at risk as new hires.”
Making construction sites safer is a perfectly fine goal — but covertly boosting unions while pretending to boost safety is just dirty politics.
This first appeared in the NY Post