Construction workers protest safety bill

This is a bill they want to kill.

More than 40 construction workers protested the Intro 1447 bill outside of Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush) office in East Flatbush on Aug. 2. The workers came to show their disapproval with the pol’s support of the bill, which they say will put them out of work, said one of the organizers of the rally.

“This bill is going to put you out of work, and it favors people that don’t live near our neighborhoods,” said Manuel Burgos, the founder of By the Numbers consulting services.

He says the if the legislation goes into law it will put many construction workers of color at a disadvantage.

“This is going to destroy everyone one of you in your jobs and this is impacting those of Latino, black, and Asian communities,” he said. “Just when the city is giving us more opportunities — they’re going to take it away.”

The Intro 1447 will require that construction workers undergo additional safety training from their employers. It mandates that they take a longer 60-hour course of training, compared to the 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training. And this added course would put a strain on supervisors, said one employer.

“We can’t train that many people and they know that. Nobody can get trained that quickly, and that’s why they’re picking on us to do that,” said Robert Giello, who manages more than 100 workers at Glo Electrics.

He said that the week of training and costly training expenses would leave many workers in jeopardy with their jobs.

“They have families and thousands of people will be affected, because we’re talking about thousands of dollars to train one guy,” he said.

Many people who are against the bill say that while it currently seems like a good measure for their workplace safety, when revisions are made it will harm the workers and leave them shut out of the decision making.

“Intro 1147 is not good for us because they took a lot of stuff out — but once that bill is passed they’re going to do amendments and put stuff back in the bill and that hurts us,” said Martin Allen, a member of Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises and president of PPEE Construction. “They don’t care about our community. We build everything but we can’t afford to live there.”

Councilman Williams was not at his office during the protest but says he understands the concerns of his constituents and has been in talks with other leaders and organizations about the bill.

“I definitely hear their concern. We have not passed any legislation and we are not ready to do so but all concerns they have will be addressed,” he said.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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