Times Union: Second draft of Scaffold report released

SUNY’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government has released a second draft of its controversial report on New York’s Scaffold Law. According to the Institute’s Deputy Director for Operations Robert Bullock, it’s the only remaining version of the report that was shared with the report’s funder, the state Lawsuit Reform Alliance.

The business-backed group, which opposes Scaffold Law, paid $82,800 to fund the report — sponsorship that has led critics to attack the study as advocacy in the guise of research. Its authors, however, insist the research was conducted in good faith.

Scaffold Law, which places “absolute liability” on employers for gravity-related workplace injuries, is supported by labor unions but opposed by business groups that claim it needlessly drives up construction costs — a thesis backed up in part by the report. Opponents would like to see New York follow other states by adopting a “comparative negligence” standard that would make workers proportionately responsible when their actions contribute to an accident.

The Center for Popular Democracy, a labor-backed group that supports Scaffold Law, lambasted the report upon its release last winter and requested copies of all communications between the institute and the Lawsuit Reform Alliance. That FOIL request produced a series of emails between researchers and LRA Executive Director Tom Stebbins, including Stebbins’ suggested edits to a June 25, 2013, draft copy of the report that was not initially released by the institute.

Click here to read the full story in the Albany Times-Union.