According to Building and Construction Trades Council president Gary LaBarbera, none of the 33 construction worker deaths that have occurred since the beginning of 2015 have involved any evidence of alcohol or drug use.
“There has never been even one allegation of drug or alcohol use related to any of the dozens of fatalities on worksites across New York City,” he said. “This letter is nothing more than a diversionary attempt by irresponsible developers and nonunion contractors to scapegoat workers, shift the blame to victims, and cover up for their own poor safety record which puts profits over worker safety."
However, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., a national trade association made up of non-union builders and contractors, recently wrote a letter to the City Council to ask that they implement mandatory alcohol and drug tests for construction workers in New York City.
This group of non-union contractors argues that this type of testing is commonly used in other fields, most of which pose less risk to workers than construction jobs, and argue that it only makes sense to treat these workers with the same level of scrutiny as a customer service representative or professional baseball player. They also claim, without providing evidence, that alcohol and drugs are likely among the top causes of injury in the construction industry.
The group of non-union contractors hopes to include this new testing mandate into the union-backed legislation the Council is already weighing that, if passed, will require workers to go through training programs and apprenticeships, as well as a number of additional safety bills.
It is the push for anti-workers’ rights legislation such as this by non-union contractors and construction companies who do not want to spend the money to provide safer worksites that demonstrate the importance of building and construction trade unions. The unions are there to stand up for the rights of the workers and help ensure that the responsibility for providing safe workplaces rests on the shoulders of those with the means to do so, the owners, developers, and contractors.