Amanda Bertram, vice president of public affairs for the Empire State chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors, plays fast and loose with the facts in her letter "Take a closer look at labor agreements," Sept. 5. She builds a narrative on project labor agreements that serves her organization's goals, which seem to include reducing wages and standards in the state's construction industry.
Bertram attempts to paint unions in her letter as organizations that are special interest groups. Unions are people. Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn't "appease his union donors." He represents people, who happen to be in unions. We are teachers, nurses and construction workers. We keep the streets safe, and we put out the fires. We are coaches, and we are your neighbors. The only special interest group in this narrative is Bertram's organization.
Bertram goes on to lament what she sees as a lack of competition in the public bidding process. This is untrue. The contractors she represents are free to bid. They choose not to. They do so to avoid area standards and wages. She further implies that jobs that go over budget do so because of project labor agreements. This is ridiculous. Many reasons lead to cost overruns. Contractors submit bids, and labor costs are known up front due to prevailing wage laws. Cost overruns come from changes after the original contract.
Her letter is a thinly disguised attempt to attack prevailing wage laws, workers and the unions that represent them. - Robert Holst of Staten Island responding to the Albany Times Union