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Ramos & Bragg

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New York State Senator Jessica Ramos helps write and enact the laws that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg enforces through prosecution. They both have their eye on New York's construction industry.

New York State Senator Jessica Ramos and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg: One works to create the laws that will make our communities safer and fairer, and the other fights to enforce those laws. Based on recent bill proposals from the senator and several criminal charges brought by the DA, both of them seem to have a sharp eye on the construction industry right now.

Protecting working class New Yorkers

For Senator Ramos, that focus is part of her fight for her constituency — which is a rich blend of hard working recent immigrants who live alongside long-time New Yorkers in Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst. She is aware of the common trajectory that brings people to her district from Central and South America seeking stability, many of whom then find themselves as powerless pawns in a ruthless non-union construction industry. Navigating this path is often a matter of life and death for these men and women, and the senator understands that.

In one post on X she spoke about the victims of non-union contractor negligence. She said, “Of the workers who died on [New York City] construction sites, ​​86% were non-union and at least 54% of the fatalities were Latinos.” Unsaid in that post was the fact that many of the people killed on construction sites call District 13 home.

Construction impacts a district

This devotion to the people of her district has driven her fight for a more equitable construction site workplace. Senator Ramos has authored several bills intended to help construction workers get fair considerations regarding pay, safety, and health benefits — elements of employment that are often abused by their non-union bosses. For example, she proposed a bill that will close a loophole that is currently allowing non-union builders to not pay their workers the prevailing wage even though those builders have taken public funds for that project. She was also instrumental in getting Carlos’ Law through the legislature, which increases the penalties for contractors found responsible for the injury or death of a worker.

New York construction, where nearly 70% of the labor force works under non-union bosses, needs the legal vigilance we’re getting from people like Senator Ramos and DA Bragg.

Prosecuting the offenders

New York’s non-union construction bosses have also been keeping DA Bragg quite busy, as he prosecutes those who violate our laws. He’s recently procured guilty pleas in a scheme to defraud the state and take money intended for minority- and women-owned firms by creating fraudulent shell companies.

And in several separate cases he has brought charges for bid rigging against a host non-union contractors who have used bribes, falsehoods, and insurance fraud to steal construction projects from contractors who have submitted their bids lawfully. These cases have reeled in dozens of non-union contractors and the money stolen amounts to more than $100 million.

The New York Construction Fraud Task Force

This increase in activity is likely due to DA Bragg expanding the New York Construction Fraud Task Force, which was created in 2015 by then DA Cyrus Vance. DA Bragg said, “Construction fraud can fleece the public, hurt law-abiding businessowners and endanger the lives of workers. The expansion of the Construction Fraud Task Force demonstrates the seriousness of our commitment to rooting out illegal activity and creating a safe and fair industry.”

New York City’s construction sector received an unprecedented $83 billion in investment in 2023. That’s more money concentrated in one city than many nations see in their entire annual budgets. One construction project estimator told Union Built Matters, “Anytime there's that much money flowing into an industry the watchdogs get stretched. They can't possibly keep up with the oversight of something that big. And that's when the bad guys start to drool. I think there are a lot of drooling bad guys operating in our industry right now. And it makes the whole thing worse for all of us."

New York construction, where nearly 70% of the labor force works under non-union bosses, needs the legal vigilance we’re getting from people like Senator Ramos and DA Bragg.

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