In a 10-2 vote, the Phoenix Development Advisory Board (DAB) approved a motion that reaffirmed the Arizona Building and Construction Trades' (AZBTC) commitment to promoting safe and healthy working conditions for all workers.
Earlier this week, the Phoenix DAB, a development expert committee, voted against a private inspector proposal introduced by Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio, chair of the city's Ad Hoc Taskforce. The Ad Hoc Taskforce is charged with reviewing construction permitting, inspections and the general effectiveness of city governments. Councilman DiCiccio's proposal would have allowed contractors to choose their own inspectors when applying for a construction development permit.
Councilman DiCiccio maintained that privatizing building inspections would streamline the city's development and construction process. However, the proposal presented a major concern to members of the AZBTC, who argued the policy change could foster corruption and threaten public safety.
"Allowing contractors and developers to choose their own inspectors damages the integrity of the process and puts public safety at risk," said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Shawn Hutchinson, a member of the AZBTC and Phoenix Ad Hoc Development Taskforce Steering Committee.
Hutchinson, along with six other trade leaders, was appointed to the Phoenix Ad Hoc Taskforce, following the election of strong labor advocates Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Michael Nowakowski and Councilman Daniel Valenzuela. Collectively, the trade representatives promoted pro-development changes for the city's permit review process, while keeping the public and their members' safety a top priority.
Attending nearly 20 Ad Hoc meetings, AZBTC taskforce members promoted several key solutions for improving the city's process:
- 24-hour inspections
- Updated special use permits
- Increasing the number of over-the-counter permits
All the while, members stood in strong opposition against handpicking inspectors, which would open the door to potential corruption and ultimately lead to health and safety issues. "Streamlining the development process to create jobs is our main objective. However, we cannot and will not forego the safety and well-being of workers and the community in the process," said Sheet Metal Worker 359 Business Manager and AZBTC Secretary Dion Abril.
When the idea of inspector choice was brought before the DAB, AZ Pipe Trades Business Representative and member of the DAB Rick Hudson motioned to deny allowing developers to choose their inspectors, which was quickly seconded and passed by board members.
Hudson's motion effectively recommended to the Phoenix City Council not to allow contractors and developers the authority to choose their inspectors, ensuring inspectors remain objective, administered by the city, and all inspections are conducted randomly, which were the initial goals of the AZBTC when joining the taskforce.
Working collaboratively, members of the AZBTC proved successful in blocking questionable policy changes that would have resulted in a broken inspections system. The outcome is a victory for Arizona workers and represents AZBTC's proactive strategies for safeguarding and defending the livelihoods of working families.
The Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council (AZBTC) has served Arizona's construction labor unions for more than 50 years. The council reflects a variety of trades and decades of experience in Arizona's construction industry.
The AZBTC is composed of 17 affiliates representing more than 11,000 members. Seven of the council's affiliates serve on the Phoenix Mayor Stanton's Ad Hoc Development Taskforce. Taskforce affiliates include International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Shawn Hutchinson, Ironworker 75 President Terry Wright, Sheet Metal Worker 359 Business Manager Dion Abril, Apprenticeship Director George Sapien and Business Representative Tom McDermott, as well as Arizona Pipe Trades 469 Business Representatives Mel Ingwaldson and Chris Van Kirk. AZBTC is also proud to have AZ Pipe Trades Business Representative Rick Hudson as a member of the Phoenix Development Advisory Board.
Using its combined experience, the AZBTC works to ensure good quality, long-term construction careers for Arizona workers.
To learn more, visit www.azbuildingtrades.org or e-mail email@example.com.