Posted on March 29, 2018

City Will Not Collect Personal Data of Undocumented Workers Under New Safety Law

Joe Anuta, Crain’s New York, March 29, 2018

[New York City’s] Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said Wednesday that the city will neither collect nor retain the personal information of undocumented construction workers who will be required to earn safety training certification under a new law.

Chandler’s agency is busy hashing out how to implement the new construction safety bill that was crammed through the City Council in September. {snip}

“How can you ensure privacy and at the same time get the department the information it needs to act on enforcing the law with the goal of safety — not the goal of turning people in?” Chandler said at a Crain’s forum on Wednesday. The Department of Labor estimates there are some 150,000 construction workers currently employed citywide, and the Pew Research Center suggests that between 15% and 33% of them are undocumented.

While the daunting details of implementing the new law are still being worked out, the city itself will not retain any identifying information, the commissioner said. {snip}

But getting workers comfortable with the idea could be tricky. Ahead of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the de Blasio administration tried to remove a trove of identifying information from its municipal identification program, which many undocumented New Yorkers had taken advantage of to gain access to city services. Two Staten Island officials sued to stop the purge. A local judge ruled against them last year, but the case is still ongoing.