From City Hall:
The city Buildings Department is bracing for turmoil at construction sites when dozens of collective bargaining agreements expire at the end of next month, Commissioner Robert LiMandri told a City Hall breakfast yesterday.
He said his department will be on high alert as the June 30 deadline nears, and is planning how to navigate picket lines and deal with deliberate destruction by disgruntled workers.
“That’s certainly planning for the worst, and if that happens we’ll have to do that,” said LiMandri, who noted his department has a strong relationship with the city’s district attorneys. “Sabotage is certainly, I’m sure, at the top of every construction manager’s mind, but make no mistake about it: this city is not going to tolerate that kind of behavior.”
The commissioner’s candid assessment came at a discussion hosted by Baruch College’s Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute and sponsored by the law firm Greenberg Traurig, during which he talked about the department’s challenges and successes since he took over in 2008.
Tensions between the city’s builders, contractors and unions have grown since last year. Developers say they need to cut costs 20 percent to restart the industry, and are asking for wage and benefit concessions as well as work-rule changes.
Construction workers say they have already sacrificed with temporary givebacks through project labor agreements, but have balked at making them permanent in new contracts.
Several industry workers grilled LiMandri about what they called widespread problems with unqualified and bureaucratic plan examiners, who are responsible for reviewing and approving construction plans.