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Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Hosts "The Future of Labor in Construction"
[June 12, 2017]

Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Hosts "The Future of Labor in Construction"

Zetlin & De Chiara, LLP hosted a panel of New York City's leading real estate owners and developers, builders and union professionals on May 31, 2017 at the Union League Club to examine the state of union labor in New York and its impact on building. The forum was moderated by co-founding partner Michael De Chiara.

De Chiara guided a discussion that considered how market forces are influencing the future of New York's construction trades, explaining, "Organized labor is critical for the industry, for making sure there are skilled and trained workers to get the job done right. It's not good for New York or for business when the safety and integrity of complex projects are compromised by cutting corners, even for budgeting purposes."

Presenters includd: Richard T. Anderson, past president of the New York Building Congress; Jay Badame, AECOM Tishman; Sabrina L. Kanner, Brookfield Properties; Gary LaBarbera, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York; Steve McInnis, the New York City District Council of Carpenters; Joseph G. Mizzi, Sciame Construction; Charles F. Murphy, Turner Construction Company; and Edward V. Piccinich, SL Green Realty Corp.

Panelists agreed that competition throughout the market is good for the industry at large as owners and developers seek the "best value." They debated New York's high construction costs; the current trend towards open shop, which is making inroads in the areas of commercial building and public works projects; and the ways in which unionized trades are working to become more competitive.

As the gap between open and union shops is narrowing, unions still dominate when it comes to providing safety and skills training, particularly for complex construction.

The panel considered the benefits of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), including the one Zetlin & De Chiara crafted on behalf of SL Green for One Vanderbilt. This framework can deliver a skilled and fairly-compensated union workforce to developers and general contractors by offering better work terms.

Creating an open dialogue between the trades was discussed, as panelists noted that both sides understand the importance of a trained workforce and controlling costs in a densely built environment where construction is challenging and with insurance costs that are among the highest in the nation, whether a project is union or open shop.

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