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Contractors seek to link Formula 1 participation to OSHA training

Friday, July 29, 2011 by Michael Kanin

Council members approved a resolution Thursday mandating 10 hours of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training for all construction workers participating in city projects as well as a 30-hour OSHA approved safety training requirement for all construction supervisors working on city contracts.


Representatives of the city’s minority contractors’ associations tried to get the Council to postpone the item Thursday after spending last week attempting to link the resolution to what they perceive as a lack of minority participation in the construction of the region’s Formula 1 racetrack.


Carol Hadnot of the Austin Area Black Contractors’ Association spoke for her organization and the Hispanic Contractors’ Association of Austin. She noted that their issue wasn’t with the activists and construction workers. She then expressed concerns about the process for the OSHA resolution compared to the contractors’ work F1 issues.


“What we want is the same due diligence about the M/WBE participation and the things we’ve been working on with the M/WBE advisory committee for over a year,” she said.


On Monday, Hispanic Contractors’ lobbyist Paul Saldaña sent an email to Council Members Bill Spelman and Mike Martinez.


In it, Saldaña reminded Spelman and Martinez about the Formula 1 situation, and roundly criticized the city’s Department of Small and Minority Business Resources. He noted that a working group was assigned by Austin’s MBE/WBE Advisory Committee to “develop potential amendments” to the document that governs the city’s relationships with outside contractors “in an effort to capture applicability to the (Formula 1) project” in April of 2011.


Saldaña said that at the committee’s July 12 meeting, “the proposed changes were presented for consideration,” adding that city staff “continued to express their objections to the revisions and no action was taken.”


“The minority trade associations have been working diligently since August 2010 to bring forward amendments to the MBE/WBE Third Party Agreement with ongoing resistance from city staff, (the) law dept., DSMBR, and the F1 reps,” Saldaña continued. “We were quite surprised that you were bringing forward amendments and/or a new Third Party Agreement to incorporate OSHA safety training requirements for Council consideration given that we were clearly subjected to a different process.”


Martinez questioned DSMBR director Veronica Lara about the situation. She briefly affirmed that some discussion on the subject was taking place.


Martinez asked Hadnot if she’d like to have the item postponed. “I don’t want to postpone it for the mere fact of the passion that I heard from the workers who need this…now,” she said.


She asked for support from the Council when the advisory committee takes up the issue again in August but received no firm commitment from the dais.

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