City Council Leaders Introduced a Series of Measures to Expand Safety, Quality and Workforce Development in Construction

At tonight’s City Council meeting council leaders introduced a series of amendments to Chapters 14 and 21 of the Code of Ordinances. Together, these changes will create baseline standards for quality, safety, and workforce development in the construction industry.

Amendments to Chapter 14, introduced by Council President Matos, Councilor Pro Temp Correia, and Councilors Miller and Salvatore create a  citywide construction contractor registration process that includes measures to prevent the misclassification of workers as temporary employees.

“Regulating contractors with a registration process protects the physical and economic health of our city residents,” stated Councilor Rachel M. Miller. “By and large, I believe contractors follow the law, but, in an industry that is notoriously hard to regulate, any company that is cutting corners affects the industry and affects the health and well-being of our community. As a community organizer in Providence, I saw three big problems in the industry: workers who had to fight for for their claim to unpaid wages, also known as wage theft; workers who were injured on the job only to find that their employer was illegally classifying their employment as 1099 (or contract work) leaving them with no recourse for workers’ compensation; and workers who worked for a contractor who disregarded health and safety training, not even requiring workers complete the most basic ten hour safety class, OSHA 10.”

The amendments to Chapter 14 require that a contractor who does over $100,000 in construction business per year register with the City’s Board of Licenses every two years. In order to successfully register, an applicant must not have recent wage and hour or health and safety violations. It also must be up to date on its taxes. The $100 fee collected every two years will support enforcement and monitoring of this new statute.

Amendments to Chapter 21, introduced by Council President Matos and Council Pro Tempore Correia strengthen provisions for workforce development through apprenticeship and set a wage standard for work completed with the support of Tax Stabilization Agreements.

“When we put public dollars to work in the form of tax stabilization agreements, we make a commitment to both the private developer and to the residents of the city,” said Council President Sabina Matos. “This is an opportunity to continue to strengthen our TSA policy to ensure that we are getting a return on that investment – in the form of new development and revitalized buildings and also an investment in our workforce. For many years, development tax treaties have required 100% apprenticeship utilization. Apprenticeship is the pathway that turns a one time job into a lifetime career. But, although the ordinance required it, there were still loopholes that allowed that provision to be disregarded. Tonight we’re introducing changes that strengthen apprenticeship requirements. Additionally, we’re setting a standard for competitive wages that will lift up the working women and men in the industry. The City Council believes that there’s always a possibility for a positive ripple effect in our neighborhoods when we pass a TSA, but with these changes, that possibility becomes a promise.”

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