Unrestricted construction resumes in most of New York — NYC labor and management prepare for reopening

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cuomo new york announcement

Unrestricted construction will resume today in five regions within New York State, as well as New Jersey, in the first phase of the reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central New York, the North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions all met the requirements for declining case-loads and the construction industry is among the first sectors to obtain clearance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

However, it will certainly not be “business as usual” on jobsites, as stringent social distancing and protective equipment measures are in place, outlined in state regulatory documents. In a nine-page Construction Master Guidance document, regulators set out social distancing rules, as well as how to handle a situation when a worker is reported infected with COVID-19. Contractors are required to affirm through an online registry that they have read and understood the requirements.

New York City won’t reopen for full construction activity until later — because of the severity of the pandemic in the metropolitan area.  However, several categories of construction work have been deemed “essential”.

The NYC Department of Buildings reports that, as of May 13, work could continue at more than 7,600 construction sites, and upwards of 500 new projects have been given the go-ahead since Monday, May 11.

The Real Deal reports that The Building Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, the Building Trades Employers Association and the Real Estate Board of New York are negotiating terms for reopening sites where the labor is all union, or a mix of union and non-union but a collective bargaining agreement is in place.

The groups are considering staggering start times at sites between 6 and 10 a.m. and potentially changing the work week from Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday with 10-hour days, the Real Deal reported, citing a memo. “Workers who take on second or third shifts would be paid a 5 percent premium on wages and benefits. The changes would remain in effect for at least 60 days after the state’s state-at-home order is lifted for construction,” the publication reported.

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