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05/2/2014 | Improving Job Quality

Victory for Workers: CPD Helps Save Scaffold Safety Law

The Center for Popular Democracy has partnered with Make the Road New York and the Build Up NYC coalition to protect worker safety as industry executives and lobbyists have sought to gut the Scaffold Safety Law, a crucial protection for vulnerable construction workers. And our efforts have been fruitful: Governor Cuomo recently announced that the scaffold law will survive industry attacks this legislative session.

For years, real estate developers and construction executives have sought to the gut the law, which holds employers liable for worker injuries from falls. This year, they even paid for an $82,000 "study" to argue that the safety law was ineffective, which our research quickly debunked, leading to the State University of New York to distance itself from the industry-funded report. 

Our report, "Fatally Flawed," written in partnership with the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, played a key role in debunking the industry's argument and exposing a front group working on behalf of developers and executives. 

The Center for Popular Democracy and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health are proud partners in the newly launched Scaffold Safety Coalition. The Scaffold Safety Coalition is a diverse group of workers, advocates and organizations committed to protecting construction workers in New York State, creating a unified front in the fight to defend New York’s Scaffold Safety Law from industry-backed efforts to gut the law. More information is available at: www.scaffoldsafetylaw.com.

Read the full report, "Fatally Flawed: Why the Rockefeller Institute's Scaffold Law Report Doesn't Add Up" for evidence and details: http://populardemocracy.org/news/fatally-flawed-why-rockefeller-institute-s-scaffold-law-report-doesn-t-add

"Industry front groups are putting construction profits first when they mislead the public to obscure the real stakes of this debate: workers' lives and safety on the job," said Josie Duffy, policy advocate at the Center for Popular Democracy. "The Scaffold Safety Law saves lives. Gutting it, as some are advocating, will harm workers and disproportionately put Latino and immigrant workers at risk. These groups should be ashamed of themselves for spending $82,000 on a junk report instead of making sure the workers who build our cities have the protection they need." 

In addition to our research, CPD played a front-line role in the campaign to protect the Scaffold Safety Law.  With our partners at Make the Road New York and the Build Up NYC coalition, we coordinated a protest at a luxury residential real estate development that hires non-union labor and does not take precautions to ensure worker safety.

In the past month, two workers have been hurt at the Starwood/JDS construction site in New York City. The building is being renovated to become a luxury condo with units selling for between $1.5- 9 million each. With developers pouring tens of millions of dollars into the building, we stood with community members and leaders to demand JDS invests in creating a safe construction site.

Construction workers’ safety should be improved by protecting and enforcing the New York State Scaffold Law, which requires owners and contractors to provide appropriate and necessary equipment, such as safe hoists, ladders, and scaffolds. The law holds owners and contractors fully liable if their failure to follow the law causes a worker to be injured or killed.

Watch Policy Advocate Josie Duffy explain why the Scaffold Law is necessary to protect construction workers.

CPD thanks all of our partners who helped make this victory possible, and we will continue to protect workers from industry bad actors who seek to gut safety laws.