The New York Post reports on a proposal that is one of the lowest, most egregious, and even vile things we’ve seen in more than thirty years fighting for the rights of working men and women in New York. This is an attempt–that we have to believe must fail–to put a strictly limited money value on the lives of workers injured and killed on construction, asbestos removal, demolition and scaffold work sites. Another way to understand this proposal, is that it would encourage contractors to play fast and loose with safety precautions. Every New Yorker must fight this proposal and the people who so cheaply value the lives of our construction workers.
Two powerful contractor groups are demanding the City Council put the brakes on a proposal to create a sliding scale when awarding damages in construction-fatality cases.
The bill, which is sponsored by outgoing Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would allow judges to consider a “defendant’s financial resources” in determining penalties for construction violations that result in death or serious injury.
The provision seems designed to prevent companies from being penalized out of business, but critics charged the council should be more concerned about the loved ones deceased workers leave behind.
“Ability to pay should not be a consideration when enforcing construction safety regulation,” said Louis Coletti, head of the Building Trades Employers’ Association.
The proposal would set a civil- penalty ceiling at $500,000 for companies and $150,000 for individuals deemed responsible for creating hazardous conditions that lead to death or serious injury on a job site.
Denise Richardson, director of the General Contractors Association, slammed the bill’s sliding-scale provision as “egregious.”
“The message this bill sends is that workers’ lives at larger, more established companies are more valuable than workers’ lives at smaller, less established firms,” she said.