What is it?
Under Wick’s Law, New York general contractors on construction projects are required, on state and local government projects, that cost more than; $3,000,000.00 in New York City; $1,500,000.00 in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties; and $500,000.00 in all remaining counties throughout the state, must separately bid out contracts for plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning (commonly referred to as HVAC), and electrical contracts. (The monetary threshold was increased in 2008 from $50,000.00.)
There has been much debate over Wicks Law, some argue that these stringent requirements result in costly delays, create increased administrative expenses, which in turn increases the initial bids, and ultimately the strains created under Wicks Law have caused some projects to never materialize.
Challenges to Wicks Law
In addition to increasing the monetary threshold of construction projects subject to Wicks Law, the 2008 amendments also allowed a municipality to opt out of the requirements of Wicks Law so long as it entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the contractor’s union. (This allows a single contractor to be hired, who would then bid out the various sub-contracts, as is typically done in construction.) The contractor must also agree to participate in an apprentice training program in order to qualify for the exemption.
The constitutionality of the amendments of 2008 were recently challenged and upheld by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department.
The plaintiffs argued that the new threshold requirements were arbitrary and additionally argued that the opt-out provision violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it placed out of state and minority owned businesses at a disadvantage.
The defendants moved to dismiss the claim, which was granted. In granting the motion to dismiss, the court went further to declare the amendments constitutional and in its decision, the court opined that the plaintiff failed to negate “every conceivable basis which might support the 2008 amendments.”