I want to inform our members that under the direction of its Board of Directors, the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh (BAMP) today filed a petition to the state’s Commonwealth Court challenging Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s Guidance for Businesses in the Construction Industry. The complaint contests a portion of the order and guidance that unfairly treats the operations of residential home construction differently than its similar counterparts in the commercial construction industry. Specifically, the complaint raises the question of inequity placed upon residential construction practices by limiting the number of workers permitted to engage in residential construction that is not imposed upon commercial construction projects. A copy of the complaint is attached below.
The complaint asserts that the Governor and Secretary of Health have violated the equal protections of member businesses provided under both the Commonwealth and United States Constitutions. BAMP is being represented in the lawsuit by Kristen Moritz with Gesk Moritz, LLC in Carnegie. The law firm specializes in the representation of construction industry professionals, including residential builders and developers.
For the past nine weeks, BAMP, the Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA) and our members have tried in vain to impress upon the administration the ability of our member businesses to operate safely as we work to provide the necessary housing to our customers and citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that our member businesses have and will continue to practice the necessary social distancing and will implement the recommended safety protocols recommended by the CDC and OSHA and ordered by the Governor and Secretary of Health.
As you know, BAMP, PBA and NAHB have been providing the resources and tools that you should use to implement safety procedures, and I am confident that you can and will work safely with the expanded number of workers that hopefully winning this suit will provide. Members need only the chance to prove they can carry out their mission without increasing worker or customer exposure to COVID-19-- similar to what is afforded to commercial construction activity.
We did not take this action without careful thought. We proceeded only after we had exhausted all other avenues of recourse available to remedy the inequities contained in the Governor’s guidance for construction activities. At this time, we can no longer stand by and allow the unjust treatment placed upon residential construction business that is not imposed on commercial construction operations in Pennsylvania that serves to harm our members' ability to deliver safe and affordable housing at a reasonable time frame that their customers expect and deserve.
We are prepared to press this matter in the courts while staying open to discussions with the administration in an effort to reach a reasonable solution that will permit members to get back to normal operations as is safely possible while we all continue the battle to contain the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to keep you posted on the progress of these efforts.
Until then, please be --and work-- safe.