“I don’t think we got adequate time to review what they were planning,” said Charlene Nimmons, of Public Housing Communities, to the AmNews. “I was in talks with [New York City] Council Member Jumaane Williams, but I still needed the time to be able to share that information with our constituents.”

In a story that’s a microcosm of New York City in the 21st century, there’s a fear Black people will be left out of the development boom. When most of the conversation tends to center around gentrification, this time it’s about construction jobs.

This week, the New York City Council began the process to vote on the latest version of construction safety legislation (Intro 1447 C). Approved by the City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings, the overall City Council is expected to pass the bill Sept. 27.

Among some requirements in the bill, Intro 1447 C requires that all workers undergo 40 to 55 hours training consisting of either 10 or 30 hours of Occupational Safety and Health Administration training plus additional hours in construction topics determined by a 14-member task force to receive a Site Safety Training Card. On March 1, 2018, new safety requirements will be phased in and every worker will have to have either OSHA10, OSHA30 or a “100-hour” training program.

When the AmNews contacted Williams, who’s one of 47 sponsors for the bill, last Thursday, he expounded on the bill’s benefits and didn’t address the negative criticism directed toward the bill.

“This bill will make great strides not only to ensure workers—regardless of affiliation—get the safety training they need, but also to help change the culture of an industry where workers’ safety is not the priority that it needs to be,” said Williams in a statement to the AmNews. “The tragic accidents at two construction sites just today, leaving two workers dead and a third seriously injured, are a clear indicator of the urgency with which we must address this culture.  Thanks to the efforts of the Speaker, Council Member Menchaca and others, the City Council has committed $5 million to make sure that all have access to this essential training.”

Under Intro 1447 C, owners, contractors and permit holders on sites with untrained workers will receive an immediate hazardous violation for each untrained worker.

“Everyone agrees that something needs to be done to improve worker safety,” said U.S. Representative Greg Meeks in a statement. “However, based on several conversations I have had with minority and women-owned businesses, I still have concerns with City Council Bill 1447. An equitable solution for all parties can only be reached if every stakeholder is at the negotiating table, coming together to hash out a fair agreement that improves worker safety without jeopardizing minority workers and minority-owned businesses.”

Intro 1447 came into existence as a result of an increase in construction related deaths between 2011 (17) and 2015 (25). Advocates believe the bill would add another barrier for Black and Latino New Yorkers who want construction jobs but don’t have union connections. However, construction firms that have union support favor the bill.

“We share the goal of the mayor and the City Council to improve safety at every construction site,” said John Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “The latest version of the legislation is an improvement. However, it fails to address basic questions like ensuring there will be sufficient training providers or how workers without an on-going relationship with a contractor will pay for and obtain training. Unfortunately, the legislation continues to claim union apprenticeship training is the same as safety training.”

When the AmNews contacted Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, his representative said, “We’re still reviewing this new version of the legislation.” Earlier in the month, Adams wrote an op-ed for the Gotham Gazette in which he expressed worry about the impact this bill would have on minority and women-owned businesses.

It’s something that Nimmons has been thinking about for a while. Nimmons trains low-income, public housing residents for construction jobs and is afraid that her business, and businesses like hers, will be left out in the cold with Intro 1447 C.

“How are we gonna make sure they have access to that training?” asked Nimmons when speaking to the AmNews. “I work with low-income people in the community at large. People who normally don’t have access to funds that would pay for their training. We constantly fundraise and try to get funding so anytime we get a couple of dollars we’re out there doing training. We have gotten over 3,500 people OSHA certified since 2009. But there’s a waitlist. There’s always a waitlist.”

Nimmons doesn’t know how small businesses like hers will get access to funds to train people. Intro 1447 C includes language about businesses being reimbursed for training, but Public Housing Communities are working with people who don’t have much and the organization doesn’t have much either.

“We train the underserved,” said Nimmons. “How are we gonna get access to these dollars? And if we can’t get access to these dollars, how are we gonna provide the services to the people we represent?”