For Immediate Release
November 24, 2020
Contact: Matt Kent
Buffalo, NY – This week, the New York Foundation for Fair Contracting (NYFFC) celebrated the first-ever enforcement of the City of Buffalo’s Apprenticeship Law. Bidding on a Citywide Roadway Spot Repair project, contractor Amherst Paving was not awarded a contract due to its failure to comply with the Apprenticeship Law – the first firm to face consequences under this law in the fourteen years it has been on the books.
“Over a decade ago, Buffalo made a promise to young workers. This decision puts us on the right path towards keeping it,” said Matt Kent of the NYFFC. “Our community deserves better than to rubberstamp lawbreaking contractors and reward them with our public dollars.” The NYFFC is a watchdog non-profit working to level the playing field in public works construction for the benefit of taxpayers, responsible contractors, and workers.
Strong apprenticeship programs are vital to train the next generation of Buffalo’s construction workforce. The 2006 Apprenticeship Law requires city projects over $100,000 to be performed by contractors with registered apprenticeship programs. To ensure opportunities are actually provided, the law requires apprentices perform at least 10 percent of all hours worked. The Apprenticeship Law also promotes greater workforce development opportunities specifically for city residents and historically excluded minorities and women.
The Common Council ordered a review of Amherst Paving’s compliance after the NYFFC alerted city officials in August of the contractor’s likely apprentice hours violations on its ongoing Buffalo Citywide Mill & Overlay project. Questioned further by Majority Leader David Rivera this week, Public Works Commissioner Mike Finn confirmed the company has been found to provide only half the apprentice hours mandated by law. An open question is the degree to which Amherst Paving will employ apprentices on this project where it is currently in violation, and what conditions need to be met for the City to enforce the law and terminate the contract.
The NYFFC applauds the Common Council for bringing much needed oversight to this situation. With oversight and enforcement, genuine apprenticeship programs can strengthen Buffalo’s construction industry, promote skilled work, and offer local workers a ladder into the middle class. Building on this success, we can provide young workers of WNY real opportunities to earn decent livings while learning valuable trades.