U.S. Court Makes Temporary Injunction Against Oyster Bay Apprenticeship Requirement for Contractors’ Permanent Injunction

Central Islip, NY – October 27, 2020 A United States District Court Judge has converted a preliminary injunction, originally issued in 2018 against the Town of Oyster Bay, which prevented the town from enforcing its apprenticeship program requirements for contractors and developers on private projects over 100,000 square feet, into a permanent injunction.

Judge Denis J. Hurley of the Eastern District of New York made the ruling at the end of September 2020, on a complaint originally filed in January 2018 by Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone (Mineola, NY) on behalf of Hartcorn Plumbing and Heating, Inc. and the Long Island and New York Mechanical Contractors Association, Inc. (CV18 0218). The Ronkonkoma-based Hartcorn, which employs approximately fifty (50) tradesmen, was notified by the Town in December of 2017 that it was ineligible for work on a large private commercial project in Bethpage because it did not comply with the then-recently enacted town code.

In issuing the preliminary injunction, Judge Hurley stated the Town’s code, as written, applies only to public – and not private – projects, and that it was pre-empted by the National Labor Relations Act. In 2018, Judge issued an injunction that suspended enforcement of the Town’s Code against contractors working on private projects, and in anticipation that the Town would make the necessary amendments to the Town Code to preclude such enforcement in the future. After two (2) years of discussions, delay and waiting for the Town to amend the code, the Town never took any concrete action to effectuate said change. Therefore, the Association counsel (Jonathan Farrell and Loretta Gastwirth of Meltzer Lippe) requested Judge Hurley convert his previously issued preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction. Despite the Town’s strenuous and vociferous objections, the Court converted the preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction. Such injunction has effectively ended this case and provided victory to the Association and Hartcorn.

According to Meltzer Lippe attorney Jon Farrell, the Oyster Bay Code, as it was written, “favored contractors with a union affiliated with just one large trade organization, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties (BCTC). Contractors affiliated with smaller labor organizations, or non-union contractors, could not satisfy the Town’s requirements of having at least one graduate within the last 24 months and at least one apprentice currently enrolled. These contractors faced serious economic harm if they were to be precluded from competing for private projects.” Farrell further noted, “especially in the era of COVID-19, it is essential that contractors have unfettered legal access to pursue work without unconstitutional restrictions.”