Thursday, June 30, 2011

New York City construction workers may strike-group

(Reuters) - At least some of New York City's construction workers may soon go out on strike, potentially stalling as much as $10 billion of projects, a business coalition warned on Thursday.

"While such talks traditionally intensify as the deadline nears, and an agreement often is reached, some negotiations are so far apart that a strike appears imminent," the New York Building Congress said, adding that more than 11,000 union jobs were at risk.

Construction companies are eager to persuade unions to give up what their employers view as antiquated and costly work rules, which, for example, require extra elevator operators or a standby worker in case a crane breaks down.

New York City's construction industry, like many around the nation, was badly dented by the financial crisis and recession. Construction spending is down nearly 25 percent from its peak in 2008, according to the business coalition.

The industry now employs about 30,000 fewer people and employment is at a 13-year low, it added. Yet summer is typically one of the construction industry's busiest periods in the Northeast region.

New York City construction workers are among the highest paid in the nation, according to the New York Building Congress. Electricians, for example, earn $83.81 an hour in wages and fringe benefits, more than their peers in Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. "Houston ranks at the bottom of the cities analyzed at $22.93 an hour," it said.

The coalition, which includes design, construction and real estate firms, said "a prolonged strike would jeopardize the timely completion of a series of critical city-shaping projects, including the World Trade Center."

Four skyscrapers are rising at the World Trade Center, part of the complex that includes a memorial, that will replace the Twin Towers toppled in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Some labor contracts expired on Thursday and others will do so throughout the summer, the New York Building Congress said. (Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Gary Hill)

1 comment:

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