covid19

FOCUSING ON YOUR ISSUES

By Hank Kita, STA Executive Director

As we begin the countdown to the end of a very trying 2020, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of the issues that the STA continues to work on of consequence to our subcontractor members.

On the legislative front, the STA continues to work with our sister organization, the Empire State Subcontractors Association (ESSA), on convincing Governor Cuomo to sign “substantial completion” legislation that was passed this summer by both the New York State Senate and Assembly.  This legislation would better define when a public project should be deemed complete and limit the degree to which some public entities “drag out” these projects and force contractors to begin to perform what amounts to “maintenance” work.  STA and ESSA legislative counsels have been recently meeting with the Governor’s Office to better explain this issue and provide assurance that this legislation would provide some much needed relief to subcontractors in this area, while not threatening the ability of state agencies to administer their construction projects.  We probably won’t know until the end of the year whether the Governor will sign the legislation, but if he delivers a veto, it won’t be because of lack of effort by the STA and ESSA.

The STA has also stepped up its activities with construction and general business organizations across the state, to work towards the reform of the much maligned and archaic Scaffold Law.  While the battle to bring reform to the Scaffold Law is very much an uphill one, I believe that the STA and other associations need to fight this law in an ongoing war of attrition.  The STA has recently joined with dozens of these organizations to lobby Governor Cuomo to suspend the Scaffold Law by Executive Order for at least one year during the COVID-19 crisis.  In addition, the STA and other groups are working with Congressman Chris Jacobs (from the Buffalo area), who has proposed legislation in Washington that would bar the application of the Scaffold Law on federally funded projects being built in New York.  While this federal strategy is also an uphill battle, I believe that no action on the Scaffold Law would assure that there is little hope of ever trying to reform this out of date law.

Finally, the STA is also working with public agencies such as the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on an ongoing basis to address issues such as project implementation, payments, and change orders to name a few.  The STA meets with these agencies several times each year to review these types of issues and advocate on behalf of our subcontractor members.  Where the issue of change orders is concerned, the STA has formed a committee to review the increasing practice of disallowing all types of overhead costs from these change orders by owners and general contractors.  I anticipate our committee to work through the winter to develop a strategy to address this change order issue with the appropriate parties beginning in 2021.  We will keep you informed of our progress in this area.

These are just a few of the issues that the STA is currently involved with on your behalf.  I will continue to update on these and other activities being undertaken by the STA.

My best, to you and your families for the upcoming holiday season!

Be careful and stay healthy!