The Mason Tenders District Council and the Contractors Association of Greater New York reached a tentative agreement June 29, says Louis Coletti, president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. The deal could help avert a potential strike or slowdown in New York City construction.

All eyes are on the Operating Engineers, which hold the most sway over potential work stoppages. Louis Coletti, president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association says, “This is a defining moment in the history of the union construction industry,” Coletti says. “New York City is the strongest union town in the country.”

The new agreement came in the afternoon a day before the union’s contract was set to expire. Coletti confirmed that the parties had reached an agreement, but he would not reveal specific details or the term of the agreement, saying that the parties are still hammering out final details. Three-year contracts are the norm in New York City construction trades, although recent negotiations across the country have focused on one- to two-year terms. (
Other union contracts, including that of Operating Engineers Locals 14 and 15, are set to expire June 30 unless agreements are reached. Also outstanding are contracts with carpenters and concrete workers.
Pressure has been mounting for unions to cut costs and inefficiencies amid higher construction costs, decreased construction spending, and widespread industry unemployment.

Most of the 21 unions with contracts set to expire June 30 have already concluded, Coletti says. The Enterprise Association of Steamfitters Local 638 and Mechanical Contractors Association reached a new three-year deal late last Sunday, he says.

“While there is never a good time for a work stoppage, the timing could not be worse for New York City. A strike now would threaten $10 billion in unionized building construction and more than 11,000 union jobs,” says a spokesman for the New York Building Congress.