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Rhode Island Carpenters strike hits press Posted by on

Two days into Rhode Island Carpenters' statewide strike against commercial and heavy/highway builders, the Providence Journal Bulletin has published a story about the impasse.

The story includes quotes from both the union and a representative of the Associated General Contractors (AGC). The union statements (included below) emphasize the need to return to the bargaining table and resume the positive, cooperative relationship the union has had with signatory contractors. Unfortunately, the AGC maintained no such level of professionalism or respect.

Eric Anderson, executive director of the Rhode Island AGC characterized union carpenters as "kids" whose strike is "nutty" and "a power play on behalf of the carpenter's union to dominate the construction industry."

Mr. Anderson apparently doesn't think union carpenters are smart enough or considerate enough to make their own decisions, telling the paper that carpenters' wives and significant others would put pressure on members to accept whatever deal management offered: "eventually we'll get to that and people will start to become more reasonable. That's what we hope will happen soon."

Union carpenters understand that a strike is not a frivolous thing. The members of Rhode Island voted by a margin of more than 400-1 to reject the last offer and strike. They didn't do it because they wanted to lose their trucks or homes anymore than contractors want to drive their businesses into the ground by sitting idle.

As is the case in many local unions around the country, union carpenters in New England are facing new collective bargaining agreements that provide very little, if anything, in the way of wage increases. Rather, carpenters are focusing on protecting health and retirement benefits. It is an unfortunate function of the current economic times. But those benefits don't only protect members, they reduce the burden on all taxpayers by lowering demand on public assistance programs.

Carpenters are not "kids" interested in pushing aside our Brothers and Sisters in the Building Trades. At the same time, the AGC's "cookie cutter" approach to negotiating and its threats to start negotiations from scratch do nothing to protect and promote positive labor relations between the union and the AGC in the future.

Mr. Anderson suggested that contractors in Rhode Island might try to keep projects on schedule by brining carpenters down from Massachusetts. But union carpenters in Massachusetts have expressed strong solidarity with their Brothers and Sisters in Rhode Island, making it unlikely members would cross state lines and union strike lines.

Members in Rhode island are encouraged to visit the story at the Providence Journal and voice their opinion on their actions in the comments section after the story. All union carpenters--no matter where they live--can voice their support for our Brothers and Sisters in Rhode Island by submitting their own comments. Go to the story on the Providence Journal's website and leave a comment in the section following the story. Remember, the paper reserves the right to delete comments it finds objectionable and rude or immature attacks do not generate support for union members. Comments are moderated and may not show up immediately. Only submit them once.

A construction worker remembered, researched Posted by on

More than 80 years ago, construction was ongoing at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston and Thomas Crowley was employed on the project.

Now, more work is being done at the MFA and Thomas Crowley has appeared on the project again. He's not really there, but he's not a ghost, either. He's become a hot topic because he left behind a note in a wall, which was recently discovered by Laborer Rick Brendemuehl who was demolishing that same wall.

Now one of the MFAs historians and directors is trying to find out more about Thomas F Crowley.

Have you ever left anything behind on a job or somewhere you've lived, hoping someone would find it years later?

Union statement on carpenter strike in Rhode Island Posted by on

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters and Rhode Island Local 94 released the following statement regarding the current strike.

On June 20, nearly four hundred members of Carpenters Local 94 unanimously voted to reject the final offer of the Rhode Island AGC for a new collective bargaining agreement. The previous four-year agreement expired on June 7. At that time the AGC representatives were unable to determine who had the authority to bargain on behalf of the employer association, so the union agreed to a two week extension.

On Friday, June 19, employer representatives submitted a final offer which they insisted be presented to the union??s membership.

In the wake of the membership vote, the Carpenters Union stands ready to continue negotiations at any time. The Union believes it is not in the best interests of either party or the state??s construction industry to negotiate in the media and calls on the employers to return to the bargaining table and finalize a mutually acceptable contract so that carpenters across Rhode Island can return to work.

Though many union carpenters are on strike, carpenters employed on construction projects governed by project labor agreements (PLA) continue to work as well as those employed by the dozens of construction employers who have expressed a desire to continue working with the union by signing interim agreements with the union.

The Carpenters union has always enjoyed a cooperative and professional relationship with the AGC and all construction employers in the state of Rhode Island. Through cooperative training and benefit programs, we have worked to train and retain the best trades workers in the industry. It is through this partnership that union contractors have been able to produce the highest quality work at competitive prices for their clients. The Union looks forward to returning to the bargaining table and re-establishing that partnership with the AGC.