NY Supreme Court Denies Union Bid for Temporary Restraining Order against NYC’s Implementation of New Crane Operator Licensing Requirements

June 13, 2012

Last week, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge denied Operating Engineers Local 14-14B’s bid for a temporary restraining order blocking New York City from implementing new crane operator licensing requirements originally announced back in April.  The court scheduled an August 8th hearing on the merits of the union's lawsuit challenging the rules, but in the meantime the City may now move forward implementing its rules.

Under the current rules, all applicants for Class A and Class B New York City crane operator licenses—those who operate the largest cranes in the City—must train as apprentices in the City for three years before becoming licensed, regardless of their prior experience operating cranes at other urban jobsites.  Most applicants must also join Local 14 and complete its training processes to become licensed New York City crane operators.  The new rules permit licensed crane operators with no New York City operator experience to apply for a New York City crane operator license so long as they possess specific experience in other geographic jurisdictions of comparable urban density.  The rules also do away with the City-administered licensing exam and require applicants to pass a more stringent national exam every five years.

In its pending lawsuit challenging the rule changes, Local 14, which stands to lose a significant number of potential union members in light of the new provisions, contends that the NYC Department of Buildings exceeded its authority by eliminating the existing rules and the New York City-based training requirements.  It also contends that a new national test does not take into consideration the City’s “unique” conditions.  The court is scheduled to hear arguments on these issues in August, and though the new rules are now technically in effect, it is unlikely that any operators will be licensed under them before the next court date owing to the substantial paperwork and background checks involved in the new licensing process.

 If you have any questions or for further information about the City’s crane operator licensing requirements, its impact on your company or Local 14’s court challenge, please contact Patrick W McGovern, Esq, pmcgovern@genovaburns.com or Douglas J. Klein, Esq., dklein@genovaburns.com, in the Labor Law Practice Group.

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