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Unions start Scaffold Law protection push

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – With some business and other groups pushing for changes to a law they says drives up the cost of construction projects in New York, an organized push has begun by a group of unions and allies to keep the law intact.

At issue is the Scaffold law, which critics say makes construction companies and property owners liable for "gravity-related" injuries, such as falling off scaffolding, even if the worker is at fault. However, backers of the law, the provisions of which date back to the late 1800s, say it pushes contractors to have safer workplaces for construction industry employees.

Eliminating the law has been on the agenda for upstate business and other groups for decades. They say the statute amounts to an unfunded Albany mandate that increases insurance premiums and, therefore, the cost to build public and private buildings.

The new coalition of pro-Scaffold Law advocates say they want to not only maintain the provision but to enhance its worker protections.

The issue is expected to be among the end-of-session items on the agenda for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers for the session that is due to be over by mid-June.

Among those backing the new effort to keep the law in place are such unions and other groups including the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health; the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York; the New York City Central Labor Council; Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ; and the New York Hotel Trades Council, as well as groups representing various minorities who work in the construction industry and the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The group has a website – here – promoting its cause.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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