ABC Asks for Drug Testing in NYC Construction

The Empire State chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors - a non-union organization - has asked the New York City Council to consider adding mandatory alcohol and drug testing to its slew of construction bills up for consideration.

In a letter penned to council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and council member Jumaane Williams, Brian Sampson, the group's chapter president, asked the legislators to consider adding the testing provision to Intro. 1447.

"As the City Council considers amendments to Int. 1477, we urge you to strengthen the legislation with a provision mandating drug and alcohol testing for all New York City construction workers," Sampson wrote. "This long-overdue mandate would play a crucial role in your efforts to increase construction safety and would undoubtedly save lives in one of the city's most dangerous industries."

The letter added that drug and alcohol testing in common in other industries, specifically naming baseball players and customer service representatives.

"Why would we not apply at least the same standard to construction workers?" the letter read.

Last month, the council approved six of 21 construction-related pieces of legislation, including stricter rules on reporting fatalities and safety violations. The council tabled, Intro. 1447, however. That bill is already seen by some as controversial by mandating an apprenticeship program that some view as an obstacle toward non-union groups.

Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, rebuked the ABC letter, and said that there's no evidence that suggests drugs and alcohol played a part in any of the fatal accidents in the city. Moreover, he says, it violates privacy.

"This letter is nothing more than a diversionary attempt by irresponsible developers and non-union contractors to scapegoat workers, shift the blame to victims, and cover up for their own poor safety record which puts profits over worker safety," LaBarbera wrote.

Josue Reap, the vice president of the ABC chapter, said the organization was "surprised and disappointed" by LaBarbera's statement.

"Union leaders are well aware that many construction incidents are the result of drug and alcohol use, which is unacceptable," Reap said. "We believe that addressing the problem of drugs and alcohol in one of the world's most dangerous industries will benefit all construction workers and help keep more people safe."

A spokesperson for Mark-Viverito said that she was reviewing the proposal.

By Durability + Design

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 8621 E. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Tampa, FL 33610
www.trentcotney.com

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