NY: Business, labor and government convened to discuss and learn more about prevailing wage and employee misclassification law.

He also made clear his opinion that in the long run school systems are better served by union, yes he used the "U" word, contractors , as their employees are better trained in both skills and safety.

By Bill The Lather

http://www.nysut.org/images/content/ra2008_080411_smith.jpg
Commissioner, NYS D.O.L.,M. Patricia Smith

This past Friday, industry leaders from business, labor and government convened to discuss and learn more about prevailing wage and employee misclassification law. Local 46 was aptly represented by Business Agent Ronnie Richardson.

The opening remarks were given by Nassau County Executive, Tom Suozzi, who openly called for business and labor to come together in common interest and forge a Project Labor Agreement that will serve to raise wages, increase the tax base and provide a safer, healthier environment in our schools. He cited the current agreement that exists between the NYC School Construction authority and the NYC Building Trades as a model for just such a plan.

Representatives from Nassau county District Attorney's office, the NYS Attorney General's office, and New York State's Commissioner of Labor, herself, have all put their political will behind these pro-worker pieces of legislation that benefit in turn all residents of the state. In addition to not paying prevailing wages, many unscrupulous contractors will cheat the system by misclassifying workers as "independent contractors." This misclassification results in workers receiving no worker's compensation, unemployment or health care benefits. It also results in the state incurring financial losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Those losses are, of course, passed on to us in the form of property and sales taxes.

Christopher Alund, Director of Public Works for the New York State Department of Labor explained to local school board members that their responsibility to make sure such laws are adhered to are greater than ever before. He also made clear his opinion that in the long run school systems are better served by union, yes he used the "U" word, contractors , as their employees are better trained in both skills and safety. He summed up his presentation by saying: " There is no factual evidence that prevailing wage in any way increases the cost of construction." To me, that sounds like a ringing endorsement for union labor.

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