NEW YORK, Aug 9 (Reuters) - New York City's labor
agreements with 50 unions do not violate federal labor law, a
Manhattan judge has ruled, a decision the city says will clear
the way to finish $6 billion of infrastructure projects.
Last year, two construction trade groups, the Building
Industry Electrical Contractors Association and United
Electrical Contractors Association, challenged the accords.
Instead of acting to secure the best deal for the
taxpayers, the city was using the pacts to write its own labor
rules for the projects and handpick favored unions and
contractors for the vast majority of the work, the suit said.
But in a ruling handed down Thursday, U.S. Southern
District Judge Robert Patterson sided with the city.
"Plaintiffs have failed to show that the city's decision to
engage in these project labor agreements with Building and
Construction Trades Council was motivated by anything other
than its interest in managing its construction projects in an
efficient manner at a manageable cost," Patterson wrote.
Signed in 2009 by the city and the Council -- which
represents about 50 construction unions, the deals cover a
range of public infrastructure projects, including a new police
academy and a larger 911 call center.
'CITY MOTIVATED BY EFFICIENCY'
City officials estimate that the agreements, which run
through 2014, will save $300 million over the next three years.
In addition to laying out uniform work rules, the pacts
require most contractors to get at least 88 percent of their
labor through the construction trades council union referral
systems, incorporate the affiliate unions' collective
bargaining agreements and include a broad no-strike clause.
Patterson in his decision wrote: "The terms of the
(accords) lead ineluctably to the conclusion that the city was
motivated by efficient, cost-effective and timely completion of
their work, and plaintiffs point to no credible alternative
purpose underlying the city's actions."
The ruling will allow major public works projects to be
built and "ensure that future construction projects will be
completed in a cost-effective and efficient manner," a city
attorney, Jonathan Becker, said in a statement.
Alan Pollack, who represented the plaintiffs, said his
clients will appeal. The ruling will hurt city taxpayers by
driving up construction costs, he said.
The case is The Building Industry Electrical Contractors
Association et al v. City of New York, in the U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-8002.
For the BIECA and UECA: Alan Pollack, Felicia Ennis and
Jonathan Rich of Robinson Brog Leinwand Greene Genovese &
For the city: Jonathan Becker, Eric Jewell and Steven
Cushman of the New York City Law Department.
For BCTC: Carol Pennington of Colleran O'Hara & Mills.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)