ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)-- Construction workers on open street projects will soon receive a prevailing wage, after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law the Roadway Excavation Quality Assurance Act. 

“Up until this point in New York State, when those public streets were opened a private utility company had no responsibility or obligation to pay prevailing wages,” said Vincent Albanese, Executive Director, New York State Laborers Political Action Committee.

Albanese said many labor workers currently make near minimum wage with little to no benefits. He said this legislation will have a significant impact for labor workers, especially those who may not be part of a union. 

“For those workers, whether they are unionized or not, to be able to earn good family sustaining wages that often will include those benefits is a tremendous victory for those workers,” he said. 

Prevailing wage in the state are calculated by the area's standard wage, county by county, for a specific task or job. The amount can range from about $25 to $50 an hour with certain benefits depending on the county and the job title. 

The New York State Department of Labor stated in a email to Erie News Now, this prevailing wage will be enforced like any other prevailing wage in the state. If an employee is not being paid the prevailing wage for their occupation they can file a complaint with the Bureau of Public Work who will investigate and require back wages be paid if appropriate.

Albanese said wage is only part of addressing the challenges to open street projects. He said lawmakers in Albany could look at expanding legislation to address safety challenges such as the speed in which some cars drive through work zones. 

“This is inherently dangerous work and there’s always more things that we could be doing to make sure that people, when they put those boots on at 5 o’clock in the morning that they get home safely at night,” he said.