June 18, 2012
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Labor Agreement That Will Save Hundreds of Millions of Dollars, Representing a Critical Step Forward in the Tappan Zee Bridge Project

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) has been reached between the State Thruway Authority and 14 labor organizations, a critical step forward in the Tappan Zee Bridge project and saving taxpayers an estimated $452 million. 


"Replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge represents one of the largest public infrastructure project in the nation, and the agreement reached today will allow thousands of New York's working men and women to secure good jobs building a new, safer bridge," Governor Cuomo said. "This agreement will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, while putting in place important protections for our workers. For too long we have talked about replacing the Tappan Zee, and we cannot wait any longer. Now is the time for action."


Key provisions contained in the PLA include:


  • A standardized 40 hour straight time work week for all trades and the flexibility to schedule four 10 hour work days to optimize construction for a combined estimated savings of $122,956,095 million; 
  • A higher ratio of apprentices to journeypersons than typically allowed in collective bargaining agreements, saving an estimated $59 million; 
  • Giving workers that arrive one hour prior to their shift $25 a day rather than an hour of overtime, saving an estimated $59 million;
  • Standardized holidays that eliminates overtime for service trades saves an approximate $2.6 million.


The PLA also creates employment opportunities for union members across the Hudson Valley and New York Metropolitan Region, assures payment of fringe benefits, and acts as a mechanism to settle jurisdictional disputes through an organized grievance process. A stipulation of the agreement states that lock-out or other work disruptions, including renegotiations of area Collective Bargaining Agreements, is not permitted. 


Chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority Howard P. Milstein said, "This agreement is good for taxpayers, good for workers, and good for the project. Significant savings will be realized and thousands of trade jobs will be secured because of this milestone agreement. It ensures that we will have reliable, local labor for the duration of the construction project."


James Cahill, President of New York States Building Construction Trades Council, said, "On behalf of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council and its affiliates and members, I want to commend the Thruway Authority for entering into this historic agreement. This PLA will lead to thousands of construction jobs for New Yorkers and millions of dollars in cost savings to the State. We especially want to thank Governor Cuomo for his vision and persistence in driving this important project forward. We have been talking about building a new Tappan Zee Bridge for decades; under Andrew Cuomos leadership we are finally building a new bridge. We look forward to working with the Thruway Authority and the successful bidder in delivering a new bridge on time and under budget."


Ross J. Pepe, President of Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley, Inc., said, "The Project Labor Agreement is vital for a complex and large project like replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The PLA provides for continuity of the workforce, cost efficiencies, flexibility and productivities saving millions of dollars while at the same time assuring local workers the opportunity to participate in public works."


The PLA builds upon Governor Cuomo's commitment to increase MWB/E participation in state contracting. Approximately $400 million will be available for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) contractors, with a sizable portion going to MWB/Es. This agreement augments the use of small and minority businesses by allowing additional flexibility, while also encouraging increased employment of women and minority construction workers.


Another major benefit of the PLA is the participation in the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program connects returning veterans to employment opportunities in the construction industry. Without the PLA, veterans would not receive an advantage in securing jobs on the project. 


Under the agreement, a memorandum of understanding will be signed between the Building Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam, the Rockland County Buildings Trades Council, the New York State Buildings Trades Council, and the Thruway Authority, as representative for the selected Design-Build contractor. The agreement is subject to final approval from the Federal Highway Administration and the New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors. 


The PLA is a required provision of the New Tappan Zee Bridge Project Request for Proposals, http://www.thenewtzb.ny.gov/bidprocess/index.html and will maximize public investment in the groundbreaking bridge replacement.