New York lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP are following the escalating fight between real estate developers and the crane operators union over a proposed city rule that would make it possible for certain out of state large crane operators with little to no New York City experience to operate large cranes in the city.
The controversial rule, which was introduced by Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, reduces the amount of direct New York City experience required for certain workers to operate massive cranes within the city’s borders. The rule would also result in more out of state operators to competing in the New York City construction market. Implementation of the rule has thus far been held up by litigation.
The International Union of Operating Engineers, a union that almost all crane operators belong to, has vehemently opposed the new rule. The union, which commenced the litigation against the city over the rule, argues that the rule was an effort to increase developers’ profits by allowing more out-of-state competition and thereby reducing labor costs. Further , the union charges that the proposed rule does so at the expense of worker and public safety.
The real estate industry – – namely wealthy developers – – has countered by maintaining that the rule increases safety requirements in crane licensing by requiring compliance with national certification standards. The union, however, responds that New York City already has the country’s toughest safety standards and that any reduction in prior New York City large crane experience is dangerous.
In an effort to push back against the new rule, Manhattan Councilman Benjamin Kallos is now re-introducing a bill that would require Class A and B crane operators to get at least 2 years of experience in New York City before being licensed here. This would create a standard more in line with the union’s idea of a fair and safe standard for city crane licensing.
New Yorkers are all too familiar with the serious risks that exist when large cranes operate at New York City construction sites. There have been too many incidents and near-incidents over the last few years involving large cranes, some of which have been fatal. Both sides are citing safety as a concern. I
It is certainly fair for to question the motivation of large real estate developers in this debate when there is little doubt that their profits would be increased by relaxing prior New York City crane experience requirements. It is also important to point out that while the developers have employed the recent sensationalized crane accidents that have occurred in the city to support their argument, union officials and crane operators can claim that without the experience and rigorous requirements imposed on New York City crane operators the frequency and severity of these accidents would increase even further. Time will tell how this public sparring session works out.
As lawyers that advocate for workers and worker safety, we hope that, whatever the final outcome of this legislative and legal fight may be, worker and public safety are the primary driving forces and goals behind any changes to large crane licensing in New York City.
Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP is a New York construction accident law firm that has successfully handled numerous crane accident cases. The firm understands the perils of all construction work, and especially when heavy loads are being hoisted by massive cranes that often tower above even the City’s skyscrapers themselves. Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP is a team of experienced and dedicated construction accident trial lawyers who have obtained over $750 Million in top verdicts and settlements for their clients. The firm’s lawyers also fight in Albany to maintain the laws that protect New York construction workers and keep our City as safe as possible.
Wall Street Journal