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A Q&A with David Bolger, Business Manager, Mason Tenders' District Council

David Bolger

David Bolger Tim Warrington

What’s the state of New York’s labor movement?

I’ll speak to that for the industry I know best, the construction industry. Public agencies and most elected officials in New York recognize the value of unionized construction, not only for the assurance of top-quality work but for the benefits and living wages they provide to the community at large. In New York City, the vast majority of public work, both city and state, is performed under project labor agreements that mandate community hire with a pathway to union membership. The private sector is a different story. There’s much work to do to educate and organize workers who are being exploited.  And that’s our daily mission.

What role do you play in supporting labor here?

The 17,000 members that make up our constituent Locals, 66, 78, 79, 108 and 1261, are active across the state not only with grassroots street organizing but politically and legislatively as well. One example is Carlos’ Law, which was spearheaded by the Mason Tenders and signed into law by Gov. Hochul. Carlos’ Law imposes stiff penalties along with criminal corporate liability to contractors whose willful negligence causes death or injury to construction workers. 

What’s your top priority this session?

The proposed statewide SUNY PLA is our top priority. SUNY spends hundreds of millions of dollars on construction and renovations annually. Unfortunately, they have a track record of awarding projects to irresponsible out-of-state contractors with histories of OSHA violations, worker misclassifications and wage and hour violations. The state’s resources are spread too thin to adequately address these violations in real time and workers can wait years before they get properly compensated, if at all. A PLA would solve this issue overnight. Unions are best equipped to resolve these problems as they happen while freeing up government resources to do other important things. A SUNY PLA is a no brainer.