Roadway Excavation Bill Doesn't Work for Utility Workers

Date Posted: 
Friday, April 30, 2021

While the New York State Laborers' Union (which represents construction workers, not utility workers) backs a measure to require prevailing wage for contractors doing underground utility infrastructure work, unions representing full-time utility employees have concerns. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 oppose the bill NY A2057 (21R) / NY S1252 (21R). Patrick Guidice, Business Manager of IBEW Local 1049 on Long Island, which represents some workers at PSEG Long Island and National Grid downstate, said the measure is well-intentioned but that underground utility work should be done by workers specifically trained to understand those systems. “At the utilities, the people that are employed there are constantly being kept up to date,” he said. “That’s what makes them head and shoulders above someone who may be doing heavy highway construction work… the next day they may be doing utility work… They’re not performing this work every day, monotonously, with regularity.”

“Prevailing wage requirements raise the floor for workers — all workers, not only union workers,” said Patrick Purcell, executive director of the New York State Laborers’ LECET and Greater New York LECET. “This proposed legislation ensures projects involving vital public infrastructure promote the use of a trained workforce, that workers are paid solid, fair wages and the job site is safe for everyone on it. As New York State begins to recover from COVID-19, the priority should be lifting up its workforce and bolstering local economies whenever and however possible.” Marie J. French

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