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NY State Assembly Passes Public Works Definition Bill

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In New York, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters is fighting hard on various pieces of legislation that will help to expand work for our members, while pushing fair pay and benefits for all New Yorkers. One bill that we are working on now with New York State Building Trades is the “Public Work Definition” bill (S2975-A/A5498-A).

On Tuesday, the New York State Assembly passed A.5498-A, and the bill will now move onto the State Senate for a vote on S.2975-A, which is the Senate version of the bill. Bravo to State Assemblymember Harry Bronson for championing this important bill that will protect the wages of hardworking men and women in New York State. 

Background on Public Works Definition Bill

The New York State Constitution safeguards fundamental workers’ rights to organize, bargain collectively, and REQUIRES that prevailing wages are paid on public works projects.  The problem is that there is no exact definition of what constitutes “public work” and it is unclear when and where prevailing wages must be paid to construction workers. 

The “Public Works Definition” bill states that “public work” will be defined as any project where:

  • Construction is paid for in whole or in part out of public funds (i.e. state grants, bonds, tax credits).
  • Property is privately owned, but will be used after construction by the State or a public entity
  • Construction of improvements to meet government regulations

Both the Senate and Governor need to support this critical legislation in order for it to happen.  We will be working with the New York State Building Trades in the coming months to push this bill forward.

We believe this bill will go a long way toward preventing businesses from paying construction workers low wages on state projects that are taking public funds and taxpayer subsidies.  In an expensive state like New York, it is so important for workers to be paid the prevailing wage to ensure they make a good paycheck and benefits and can adequately take care of their families, help boost the economy by spending their hard-earned money in their local communities and secure their future by preparing for retirement.

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