Testimony of the Real Estate Board of New York Before the New York City Council Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management in the Support of Legislation to Increase the Authority of the Business Integrity Commission

INTRODUCTION

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, salespeople, and other organizations and individuals active in New York City real estate.

REBNY supports this committee’s efforts to better protect workers in the private waste hauling industry and ensure that employers in this industry comply with all workplace health, safety, and wage laws.  The well-documented failures by some firms in this industry is of great concern.  

For this reason, REBNY supports legislation that would empower the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) with greater authority over the private waste hauling industry. The legislation under consideration in this hearing is specifically focused on increasing BIC’s regulatory authority by increasing oversight of labor unions and labor organizations, requiring reporting of violations of employment laws to city, state, and federal authorities, and mandating that information on worker rights be shared with employees of private waste haulers. REBNY supports these efforts to fill gaps in existing City law.

REBNY believes these bills provide an important foundation for additional legislation to enhance BIC’s ability to further protect workers while also accomplishing the City’s goals of reducing congestion and truck traffic and improving public health. Specifically, we encourage the committee to enact Intro No. 996, which would enhance BIC’s authority in key ways including:

  • Improving worker safety by requiring BIC to standardize safety certifications in the industry and mandate that employers conduct no-less-than annual safety trainings;
  • Reducing pollution by giving BIC the ability to establish emissions limits for collection vehicles and encourage improved route design to reduce vehicle miles;
  • Increasing BIC’s ability to better utilize technology to improve industry operations, which REBNY hopes would include utilizing GPS technology to track vehicles and encourage more efficient routes; and
  • Enhancing publicly available data and information about the private waste hauling industry and its operations.

These enhancements, along with the authority provided in the legislation being considered today, would be a forceful way for the Council to address the very real concerns about shortcoming in the regulation of the private waste hauling industry.

REBNY offers the specific comments about the measures under consideration at this hearing:

BILL: Intro No. 1329

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to trade waste industry labor unions

SPONSORS: Reynoso and Lancman

This legislation would provide BIC with the authority to establish a registration system for labor unions and labor organizations that represent or seek to represent workers in the trade waste industry. Empowering BIC with greater authority in this area is laudable. However, REBNY encourages the Council to carefully evaluate the extent to which this proposal would be preempted by federal labor law, and if needed, make modifications that would help the law withstand such scrutiny.  

BILL: Intro No. 1368

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to providing information to private sanitation employees

SPONSORS: Moya

Intro No. 1368 would require BIC to provide information about worker’s employment rights to employees of licensed companies. REBNY supports giving BIC more explicit authority in this regard. Given that BIC does not have a history of developing materials relating to worker rights, the Council could consider requiring that the City’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards work closely with BIC to develop these materials. In addition, the Council should ensure that materials are available in languages spoken by workers in this industry.

BILL: Intro No. 1373

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to referral of labor and wage violations

SPONSORS: Reynoso

This legislation would require BIC to refer potential violations of workplace employment laws to relevant city, state, or federal authorities. REBNY supports this legislation.

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CONTACT: 
Zachary Steinberg
Vice President-Policy
Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
(212) 616-5200
zsteinberg@rebny.com