This week, Bloomberg Businessweek writer and author Paul Barrett attended the annual meeting of the American Tort Reform Association, where Scaffold Law reform advocates presented on their efforts in New York.
“In what was indisputably the most lively presentation of the entire conference, the Reverend Jacques DeGraff of the Alliance for Minority and Women Construction Businesses said that tearing down the scaffold law constituted an opportunity for small companies owned by nonwhites to cooperate with larger white-owned concerns. “We’re here because we want to make some money,” said DeGraff, who is African American. He said he’d been branded a sellout in black and Democratic political circles for allying himself with the Associated General Contractors of New York and the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York. “I’ve never taken a dime,” DeGraff said with evident emotion. Opposing the scaffold law was an opportunity for racial “bridge-building,” he argued, adding: “The people who defeated apartheid in South Africa and apartheid in America are not afraid of some trial lawyers.” That line elicited a loud ovation.”