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Who benefits from the Wicks Law?

     For years, upstate New York economic activists have been dreaming about
a legislative overhaul of the Wicks Law, which requires local governments to
hire separate contractors for heating, plumbing and electrical aspects of publicly
contracted jobs larger than $50,000. But, thanks to an 11th hour addendum,
critics said, that long-awaited reform has become a nightmare.
     Changes to the Wicks law first raised eyebrows last month when it increased
upstate New York's threshold to just $500,000 while raising New York City's to
$3 million and downstate suburbs' to $1.5 million.
     But what has irked upstate contractors even more are two additional provisions
now coming to light. The first exempts contractors who implement a project labor
agreement from the Wicks Law entirely. The second requires contractors bidding
on public projects to have had in place a New York State Department of Labor-
approved apprenticeship training program for the last three years.
     Critics say these reforms shut out all but union contractors, driving up bidding
prices and further burdening taxpayers. Proponents say the measure further protects
New York State workers, and increases the quality of work done on government
projects. So which is it? Are you for or against the latest Wicks provisions?

-- Samantha Maziarz Christmann

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