Updates from the Committee on Workplace Safety

Assemblyman Lancman's Labor Press Monthly Column - May 2010
May 17, 2010

Senate Labor Committee Chair George Onorato and I recently introduced S.7841/A.11206, which would mandate that prevailing wages are paid to employees who construct and maintain buildings that house charter schools. This bill is especially important as the legislature recently authorized an increase in charter schools from 200 to 460 in New York State in order to secure education funding from the federal government.

If charter schools are built and maintained with public dollars then the workers who build and maintain the schools should be paid prevailing wages. As of now, workers who build and maintain school districts and public universities are covered under prevailing wage requirements while workers who build and maintain charter schools are not.

Employers who pay less than the prevailing wage are more likely to neglect health and safety requirements for workers. By ensuring that prevailing wages are paid to employees who build and maintain publicly funded charter schools, health and safety standards will be more likely to be adhered to.

This bill is similar to other bills that the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety supports which recognize the link between prevailing wages and safe workplaces, including the “New York State Construction Industry Fair Play Act” (A.8237/S.5847), sponsored by Assembly Labor Committee Chair Susan John and Senator Onorato, which would allow more workers to be correctly classified as employees rather than as independent contractors, permitting those workers to be covered by prevailing wage and safety and health requirements; and A.10257/S.7096, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gianaris and Senator Eric Schneiderman, which would broaden the scope of prevailing wage requirements for service employees and would establish criminal penalties for violations.

The Subcommittee on Workplace Safety supports these three pieces of legislation because each will improve workplace safety.