BCTC takes shot at ABC Empire State chapter in fight over construction safety bill

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The Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) of Greater New York is intensifying its attacks on a nonunion group that it says isn’t very active in New York City, as the City Council continues to negotiate a contentious construction safety bill, The Real Deal reports.

The group released the results from a public information request for data from the state Department of Labor, which shows details about Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Empire State members who are involved in construction training programs.

Video ABC Empire State video from the association’s NYC Safety web page

According to the data provided, only 46 people were trained through an apprenticeship program sponsored by ABC in New York City and Long Island. Of that group, 73.9 percent are white, 19.5 percent are Hispanic and 6.5 percent are black, according to roster reports provided to the state.

The ABC Empire State chapter, part of a national organization advocating for non-union contractors, has been one of the most vocal groups to oppose a construction safety bill that’s currently being negotiated by the City Council, The Real Deal reports. “The group, along with the Real Estate Board of New York, is part of a coalition that launched a campaign against the legislation, arguing that its 59-hour safety training requirement would disproportionately put minority workers at a disadvantage.”

Not surprisingly, considering ABC’s overt opposition to organized labor, BCTC president Gary LaBarbera has nothing positive to say about the organization.

“ABC is just oozing hypocrisy,” LaBarbera told The Real Deal. “Their own training program shows a lack of diversity.”

However, ABC Empire State chapter president Brian Sampson said that the organization’s members hire workers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, who receive safety training regularly. He said that apprenticeship programs tend to focus on individual trades rather than safety training.

“The real story here is that after the Building Trades spent months trying to dismiss ABC’s presence and ignore us, they’ve now apparently changed course and are using their time and resources to publicly attack us,” he in a statement. “We’re surprised to see them expend so much energy on cherry picking misleading data, especially because they still haven’t publicly released the raw data on their own training programs in New York City and Long Island.”

(BCTC provided the following numbers to The Real Deal: The organization has 5,269 apprentices in the city, 32 percent of which are white and 68 percent are minorities).

ABC Empire State doesn’t represent all of NYC’s non-union contractors. The Real Deal reports that a March study by the Economic Policy Institute, for instance, found that 75.3 percent of the nonunion construction workforce in the city was made up of minorities. Of the union workforce, 55 percent were minorities, according to the report.

The construction safety legislation’s fate remains unclear and Coun. Jumaane Williams has indicated that many details, including the duration of required safety training, are still being discussed.

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