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Unions By The Numbers

When presented with the statistical differences, there is no debating that unions are better for New York City construction.


Union performance and quality are betrter than non-union by every significant measure.

There is a debate raging in the New York City construction industry about union vs. non-union construction work. The debate is not over which group provides better work. That argument has been settled for a long time. The debate now is over just how much better union work actually is. Here are some important statistics that might help you understand the gulf that separates union from non-union. We have brought the receipts.

Union Job Sites are 338% Safer Than Non-Union

You can’t work when you’re hurt. Work-site injuries cause investigations, invite fines, and often result in work stoppages. They also drive up contractor insurance premiums that can drive up costs. 

Unions Job Sites Experience 5.2X Fewer Safety Violations

Union crews put safety first, which shows up in an exceptional on-time record and year-over-year lower rates of health and safety violations. Union jobs also experienced far fewer work stoppages due to accidents than non-union contractors. 

One intangible benefit developers and New Yorkers get from these safe union job sites: Efficiency. A worker is more able to focus on their task at hand, knowing they're protected from careless accidents, corner cutting, and management malfeasance. This results in better, faster work, which explains some of the following statistics.


Union Workers are 45% More Efficient Than Non-Union Workers 

Two separate deeply researched reports reach the conclusion that unions are more efficient in work and in cost. Reports from both Cornell University and the research organization Project Evaluation Systems conclude that due to a host of causes that include corner-cutting, poor workmanship, mis-classification of labor, work delays, and increased violations, non-union contractors end up costing developers significantly more money than union shops. So, want the job done on time and on budget, hire unions.

There is no arguing anymore about which crew will do the job better, on time and on budget. It's unions every single time.

Unions Experience 21% Fewer Delays Due to Absenteeism

Unions maintain a deep bench of well-trained professionals, while non-union contractors, thanks to the plethora of calamities described above, deal with turn-over, absenteeism, and injuries. All this explains how unions are able to accomplish the 2-day floor construction cycle (one new floor completed every two days) which sets the speed and quality standard in the industry. 

100% of Union Members Have Successfully Completed a Rigorous Apprenticeship

This fact makes union crews the best-trained crews available. For example, the Cement and Concrete Workers District Counsel requires members to pass a rough 4,300-hour apprenticeship that includes on-the-job experience, high-end tools training, and classroom instruction. Members also undergo 200 hours of annual training. 

And it's no coincidence that the CCWDC has been putting up super-structures for nearly 120 years. There’s a reason smart developers trust union workers with their most complex builds. The difference is the training.

Unions Are More Representative of New York City

73% of New York City construction union members live in one of the five boroughs. Most of the rest live in Long Island. 62% of the crews are minority, and they earn 32% more than their non-union counterparts. In fact, union members are 224% more financially secure than non-union construction workers.

Let's stop pretending there is any real qualitative comparison between union labor and non-union labor. These numbers end that debate. What we should be talking about now is how to get more of the most important projects into the hands of the most competent and accomplished  construction workforce in the city. New York City real estate goes for top-dollar, so its buildings should be the best-built in the world. When developers hire union labor, that’s exactly what they get. The best. 

The Receipts

Unions Are Safer

Unions Are More Efficient

Unions Experience Fewer Delays

Unions Require Apprenticeship

Unions Reflect New York City

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