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Innovative Global Brands Llc, whose products include granite kitchen countertops and floor tiles, is closing its residential business. Credit: iStock

Southampton Town is considering requiring contractors on large-scale commercial building projects to have a certified apprenticeship program, and use those apprentices on the job.

The legislation would follow state labor law, which allows towns to authorize such local laws.

The discussion took place during a public work session Friday. Peter Zarcone and Mike Labate, both of General Building Laborers, Local 66, in Melville, spoke about the merits of the program, which places those who want to learn the trade in position to work alongside professionals, keeps jobs local and controls costs by paying apprentices less money.

In the program suggested to Southampton, public projects costing more than $250,000, or private ones of more than 100,000 square feet, which are usually large drugstores or box stores, would be required to hire about one apprentice for every five journeymen workers.

The contractor would be required to train the apprentices, which can be done at no cost with certain union halls, Zarcone said. Officials discussed whether to lower the size requirement on private projects to 10,000 square feet and to include large residential projects.

Brookhaven, Huntington, Oyster Bay and Long Beach have already passed laws to require the programs. Other towns require the program on public construction only.

In Islip Town, a similar proposal was tabled last month after much controversy. Hundreds of people packed Town Hall for a 3½ -hour hearing that featured 60 speakers and took place only after a State Supreme Court judge ruled against a bid to stop the hearing.

The developer of the mammoth Heartland project, Gerry Wolkoff, and representatives from the Long Island Builders Institute said the law would hurt competition and increase construction costs.

The Nassau/Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council applauded apprenticeship programs as enhancing worker safety, ensuring good-paying local jobs and keeping development money reinvested in the local economy.

Above: Construction at the new Canon headquarters in Melville.

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