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Could classifying union vs. non-union jobs prevent construction deaths?

As we discussed in an earlier post, worker deaths are on the rise all over America. Amidst a rash of serious construction accidents in New York City, including multiple crane collapses, many people want answers. What's at the root of the problem? And what can be done to slow the increase of fatal accidents on work sites?

To better understand where and how construction accidents happen, the chair of the city's Committee on Housing and Buildings wants to collect more data on accidents. Specifically, committee chair Jumaane Williams argued that the city should begin classifying construction safety incidents as either union or nonunion, according to the Real Deal

Are union jobs safer?

Some people have blamed the changing makeup of the city's workforce for the rise in accidents and deaths. In recent years, unions have begun to lose their hold on New York City development. In the 1970s, roughly 90 percent of the city's construction workforce was union. Now, they only comprise 50 to 60 percent of the city's workers.

Private labor is often less expensive, but proponents of unions say that union work is often safer. Because union workers are more consistently trained, some argue that they are less likely to be involved in accidents - though to date there has not been much research to back up that claim.

If worksite accidents are classified by their union status, the data could show once and for all whether union labor is safer. What do you think the city will find out if it embraces this program?

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