NASHVILLE, TENN., March 17th. – The state’s construction industry today expressed opposition to Metro legislation, 2021-676, that would radically change Metro Nashville’s procurement code and construction industry standards, saying the measure is based on non-objective and unsubstantiated data that do not accurately reflect the state of the industry or its record in Nashville and could tilt the balance of the Procurement Board, which plays a major role in awarding Metro contracts, against merit shop contractors and workers. 

“This legislation hurts the very people it is intended to help, the workers of Nashville. The legislation invades the privacy of local workers and requires compliance with extreme safety standards that are undefined, do not currently exist, and for which Metro is without authority to promulgate. It will increase construction costs for the city and kill local construction jobs. Safety and fairness in contracts are our members’ number one priority and mission, but in accomplishing that goal, this legislation monumentally gets it wrong,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Greater Tennessee Chapter President and CEO, Clay Crownover.

The proposed ordinance uses state and federal safety and employment regulations and data in a manner that it was neither designed nor intended to be used.  As an example, a single serious OSHA violation is not a reliable predictor of safety performance on a specific project.  As a matter of fact, serious violations do not disqualify a construction project from participating in OSHA’s nationally recognized Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), a program developed to recognize only the safest sites in the nation.  Therefore, it is illogical for Metro government and the Metro council to prohibit a construction firm from bidding on project based on the issuance of a single serious violation.  Doing so would potentially disqualify construction companies with years of experience in OSHA’s VPP program from bidding on work.  

In addition, the implication from a number of union groups and union support groups that construction work in Nashville, and in Tennessee, is more hazardous than other parts of the country is simply not true.  The construction industry injury rates for Tennessee, as published by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, are below the national average. The fatality rates for Tennessee are above the national rate but below the average when compared to the southeastern states.  In addition, approximately half of the reported work-related fatalities recorded in Tennessee were really transportation incidents, which are unrelated to construction job site facilities.

The legislation creates the requirement that direct employment must be offered to every temporary worker who works on a Metro Nashville project for thirty days, which Metro Nashville does not have the legal authority to mandate. Another aspect of the legislation would require contractors to allow third-party entities chosen by Metro to review and investigate compliance with the new law. 

“While Metro government procurement office may have the right to inspect payroll records that have been properly redacted to protect privacy, the construction industry is vehemently opposed to mandating or allowing any third-party entity to review and investigate compliance with this proposal,” said Crownover. “We believe it is grossly unjust to allow metro government to impose additional and burdensome requirements on the construction industry to be used by outside, unsupervised, agenda-driven third-party entities to determine compliance with the new legislation. Additionally, worker’s privacy is of the utmost importance and this legislation could put those worker protections in peril.”

Crownover concluded, “This legislation likely violates the legal and privacy rights of construction firms and workers, will drive Metro Nashville construction costs through the roof and will ultimately lead to Metro Nashville facing extreme difficulty obtaining a sufficient number of construction contractors to perform metro’s construction work. 
Unfortunately, the metro council has been pressured into introducing legislation that would drastically change the Nashville construction market on behalf of unions and other organizations that make up less than 15% of the construction workforce. This is their effort to stifle growth and recapture their market share, which will ultimately result in the loss of local Nashville construction jobs.”

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Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national trade association representing 21,000 members from more than 19,000 construction and industry-related firms. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 69 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work. Visit us at www.abctennessee.com