Union Construction Leader Blasts Coronavirus Shutdowns

The head of the country’s largest group of contractors issued a strong statement on March 17 opposing the halt of construction owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

His statement came at the same time that Boston city officials ordered the first forced shut down of construction projects in the country.

Actions to halt construction projects “will go a long way in undermining economic vitality by depriving millions of workers of the wages they will need over the coming days,” said Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America. “At the same time, these measures have the potential to bankrupt many construction firms.”

The AGCA is one of the largest national associations of general contractors. Its membership includes both union and open-shop contractors, with on third of its members exclusively using union labor.

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“Given the precautions already in place, halting construction will do little to protect the health and safety of construction workers,” said Sandherr.

Halt of construction projects also has the “potential to bankrupt many construction firms who have contractual obligations to stay on schedule or risk incurring significant financial penalties,” he added.

And if projects are shut down, cash flow should continue, Sandherr said.

“In the unfortunate event construction is halted, we urge construction owners to consider continuing their scheduled payments to contractors as a down payment for work to be completed on the project,” said Sandherr. “These payments will help mitigate some of the potential economic impacts of construction shutdowns.”

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