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Buffalo Common Council reforms apprentice law

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Fri, Mar 19th 2021 09:45 am

City leaders act to bolster construction opportunities for young workers

On Tuesday, the Buffalo Common Council voted unanimously to strengthen the city’s apprentice law.

The New York Foundation for Fair Contracting (NYFFC) “thanks the City of Buffalo for continuing to be a statewide leader on providing apprentice opportunities. The leadership of the Common Council over the past year, keeping a spotlight on upholding our promise to young workers, has made such progress possible.”

NYFFC Director Matt Kent said, “We look forward to a busy and productive construction season with this important legislation on the books.”

The purpose of the apprentice law is to ensure taxpayer-funded construction in Buffalo creates opportunity and job training for young people, city residents, and historically excluded minority and women workers. A press release said, “Robust and well-regulated apprenticeship programs promote a strong local construction industry, emphasize skilled work, and foster safe working conditions. Strong apprenticeship programs provide an onramp to fulfilling careers and are vital to train the next generation of Buffalo’s construction workforce. The reform harmonizes City of Buffalo and Erie County requirements for legitimate programs, which graduate apprentices, creating uniformity for our local construction industry.”

In recent years, the NYFFC has identified several city construction contractors allegedly violating the law. The new reform expands enforcement mechanisms available to the city when contractors unlawfully deny apprentices opportunities to perform public work. The city would be empowered to apply financial penalties, debarment or determinations of nonresponsibility for violating contractors – steps that ensure bad actors do not become repeat actors.

The New York Foundation for Fair Contracting is a watchdog nonprofit “established to level the playing field in public works construction for the benefit of taxpayers, upstanding contractors, and workers.”

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