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Carpenter tells his story about jobs and health care Posted by on

During the lobby day events today, Union Carpenter Bill Frost of Carpenters Local 218 spoke to members, legislators and the press about his experience while working with health care coverage for he and his family and what it's meant to be without work for a long period of time.

Good morning, my name is Bill Frost, and I am a carpenter. For the last 35 years I have driven into Boston each morning to work on construction projects. I guess I should say only 34 years, because this year?? not so much.

Now, no one here needs me to tell them what has happened to the economy or that Resort Casinos will create job opportunities for the building trades. You all know as well as I do how desperately those jobs are needed by those of us on the fringes of the economy. What I can explain though, is how those jobs will impact working families.

Four years ago, my wife of 26 years was diagnosed with breast cancer. As I sat in her doctor??s office and heard the diagnosis, my fist thought was, ??We will go into Boston. We will find the best doctors, and we will fight.??

Because I am a participant in an excellent Health Insurance Plan through the New England Carpenters Health Benefits Fund, this is exactly what we were able to do.

After chemotherapy, after surgery, then radiation, and still more chemo, my wife is now cancer free. In this time frame, however, the economy has tanked and health benefits are almost non existent. And I??ve got to tell you, if I were to find myself today back in that doctor??s office, hearing that malignant diagnosis for the first time, I??m afraid that now my first thought would be, ??How am I going to pay for this???

The construction and service industry jobs though would be created by this bill mean much more than just the ability to pay our bills on time. These jobs allow the underemployed the opportunity to plan their futures and to confidently make life-altering decisions.

The working families of Massachusetts deserve the passage of this bill.

Thank you.




Carpenters, building trades workers lobby for jobs Posted by on

More than 1,000 union carpenters and building trades workers from across Massachusetts flooded the State House in Boston today, imploring their elected representatives to support casino gaming legislation to create badly needed jobs.



More pictures and video from the event will be posted soon.




Congratulations J & J Posted by on

J& J Contractors was the winning bidder today for the $61 million Plymouth (MA) North High School project.

Good news for Local 624 members.




Information on assistance for members available Posted by on

Due to a deep and long recession, many members may be dealing with prolonged unemployment that has caused them financial hardship. For that reason the New England Regional Council of Carpenters has developed a guide to organizations and programs that can provide assistance. Detailed information about a variety of help is listed in state-specific guides linked below.

211.org is a national clearing house developed by the United Way to help people find help.

Follwing are guides compiled by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. They can be viewed online or downloaded to your computer.

Connecticut
Maine
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Vermont




Following gaming, other fun stuff in NH Posted by on

Residents and workers in New Hampshire or those interested in the state or the construction industry, would do well to follow NHCarpenters on Twitter. Today, he's providing live, blow-by-blow updates on the progress of hearings relating to expanded gaming in the state. NHCarpenters is also a regular source of information on what's going on with carpenters--union and nonunion--in the industry and how contractors are behaving.

Even if you do not use Twitter, you can visit pages of those who do to see what they're up to. Use the link above to see current and past posts.

And of course, be sure to visit the Twitter account of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters (@NERCC).




This week at the Carpenters Center Posted by on

This week at the Carpenters Center, members are participating in a training class to help them contain pathogens, protect patients and perform work within active health care facilities without disrupting operations. "Best Practices in Health-Care Construction in Occupied Facilities" is a program developed by the UBC in conjunction with noted infection experts to develop carpenter skills and awareness that benefit both contractors and the facilities in which they work.

You can learn more about the program's development here. An introductory video about the program can be viewed here.

The first session for carpenters was held about a year ago in Connecticut. Since then, training sessions have been held for apprentices and journey level carpenters in different areas of New England.

Look for the program to expand and gain acceptance among safety-minded facilities who are looking to reduce risk to their patients.

Pictured: Carpenters work on creating safe work environments in active health care facilities, for example, creating a properly contained space to replace a soiled ceiling tile.




This week at the Carpenters Center Posted by on

This week at the Carpenters Center, members are participating in a training class to help them contain pathogens, protect patients and perform work within active health care facilities without disrupting operations. "Best Practices in Health-Care Construction in Occupied Facilities" is a program developed by the UBC in conjunction with noted infection experts to develop carpenter skills and awareness that benefit both contractors and the facilities in which they work.

You can learn more about the program's development here. An introductory video about the program can be viewed here.

The first session for carpenters was held about a year ago in Connecticut. Since then, training sessions have been held for apprentices and journey level carpenters in different areas of New England.

Look for the program to expand and gain acceptance among safety-minded facilities who are looking to reduce risk to their patients.

Pictured: Carpenters work on creating safe work environments in active health care facilities, for example, creating a properly contained space to replace a soiled ceiling tile.




Panels makes a real difference here and is also a ... Posted by on

Panels makes a real difference here and is also a good protection for the house I just let my house dress with panels




Governor Deval Patrick at the New England Carpenters Training Center Posted by on




Images from grand opening Posted by on

On March 16, 2010, the new Carpenters Center hosted its ribbon cutting ceremony. Nearly 400 guests were in attendance. Mark Erlich, NERCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer, opened up the event by welcoming guests to the Carpenters Center. Speakers Andy Silins, UBC General Secretary-Treasurer, Mayor Thomas Menino, and Governor Deval Patrick, congratulated the carpenters on their new home and training facility.




Carpenters Center grand opening Posted by on




Carpenters grand opening Posted by on




Local 275 to participate in Earth Day activities Posted by on

Notice from Carpenters Local 275...
Carpenters Local Union 275 will be participating in this year??s Earth Day Celebration in Wayland hosted by Wayland Schools ??Green Team?? on Sunday April 11th.

This event gives us a great opportunity for public relations with both our local and union carpenters helping in our own communities

We are looking for members to... help boys & girls build toolboxes at the Wayland Town Building, 41 Cochituate Road Wayland on Sunday, April 11, 2010 from 10:00am till 2:00pm.

Please contact the Union Hall (617) 965-6100 to add your name to the volunteer list.




NH Senate passes gaming bill Posted by on

The New Hampshire Senate voted yesterday by a 14-10 margin to expand gaming to six locations, which would include existing race tracks and new casinos.

The bill will now head to the House, where it will face a stiff challenge.

In addition to the many construction and permanent jobs that would be created, expanded gaming is expected to have a huge financial benefit for the state. The licenses for slot machines could generate an initial $200 million. License fees for facilities that want to offer table games would generate an additional $10 million each. Other area businesses would also receive a direct benefit of additional visitors.

Read more here.




Water workers: Students being trained for undersea jobs Posted by on

As reported by Donna Boynton in today's TELEGRAM & GAZETTE

MILLBURY ?? Tucked away on Holman Road is the New England Carpenters Training Center, which now also features a 7,000-gallon, 12-foot-deep tank where commercially licensed divers are trained in underwater pipeline construction.

Yesterday, the center was toured by Gov. Deval L. Patrick, who also observed training in the tank his administration funded. Mr. Patrick and Joanne F. Goldstein, secretary of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, spoke to carpenters in the apprentice program and instructors during an hourlong visit.

The underwater program and tank exist because of $160,000 in state grants awarded the Pile Drivers Local 56 Apprenticeship program through the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The first award ?? $80,000 in 2007 ?? created the Underwater Pipeline Construction Skills Training Program. The second, $80,000 received in 2008, was to construct the underwater welding training tank and expand the training to include underwater bridge inspection and nuclear power plant maintenance diving.

More than 60 divers have been trained through the program, and have been able to work on four offshore pipeline projects, perform maintenance at Vermont Yankee, Fitzpatrick and Indian Point nuclear power plants; perform inspections of 76 bridges in Rhode Island; and conduct work when tanker ships arrive in local ports. That training has also generated more than $141,000 in state taxes and $650,000 in federal taxes, and an estimated $4.5 million has been paid in wages and benefits to local divers.


To view the full article online, click here.




US House passes jobs bill Posted by on

Washington

Local governments would receive billions of dollars for construction projects and welfare programs in the latest in a series of election-year jobs bills Democrats are pushing in Congress.

The House passed a bill yesterday that combines $13.2 billion in interest subsidies for local construction bonds with $3.6 billion in tax cuts for small businesses and $2.5 billion in aid to states to pay for expanded welfare programs through September 2011.

The House passed the bill on a vote of 246 to 178, with nearly all Republicans opposed. The measure now goes to the Senate.

The Democrats aim to pass a series of modest measures to address unemployment as congressional elections approach in November.




Governor Patrick tours NECTC Posted by on

Earlier today, Governor Deval Patrick paid a visit to the New England Carpenters Training Center in Millbury, MA. He was given a tour of the facility and was invited to get a firsthand look at the training opportunities that have been made available to commercial divers through a grant funded by his administration.

Nearly fifty apprentices were on site for training during the Governor??s tour. He was able to see various classes happening throughout the facility including door and hardware, drywall, floorcovering, and a First Aid/CPR class. He stopped at each class to speak with the instructor, learning a little about what was being taught. He shook hands with and spoke with many of the apprentices.

The tour of the facility ended at the 7,000 gallon dive tank that was first utilized at the NECTC in September of 2008. Construction was made possible through two $80,000 grants from the state, grants which had been stalled under the previous administration.

Since the tank training began, contractors using union divers have won 9 contracts that have produced 54,000 work hours and generated more than $4 million in wages and benefits.





For more information about the dive tank, follow the links below:
February 2010
May 2009




On the relevance of unions Posted by on

Mike Jackson, the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights published a nice piece about the relevance and importance of unions on MLive.com, the website for a collection of newspapers in the state.

Viewpoint: Relevance of organized labor remains steadfast
March 23, 2010, 5:43PM
By Mike Jackson

The debate about whether or not unions play a relevant role in America??s workplace is a constant battle.

The growth of our economy is tied to the total value of America??s work force. Overall, unions enhance quality, productivity and safety at the job site, while making lasting investments in our economy and society.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor??s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

* Union members accounted for 12.4 percent of employed wage and salary workers in 2008, up from 12.1 percent in 2007.
* The number of union workers rose by 428,000 to 16.1 million.
* In 2008, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median weekly earnings of $886 while those who were not represented by unions had median weekly earnings of $691.


Michigan workers and families face the harsh reality of an extremely challenging economy, and witness daily assaults on the wages, benefits and job protections of workers in most industries and career fields, not just the skilled trades.

Unions support and help enforce equal opportunity and anti-discrimination in employment and related areas, which benefits workers in all sectors and job classifications of our economy.

Union groups continually fight for and confront issues including wages, workplace health and safety, civil and human rights, Social Security, overtime pay, job outsourcing, health coverage, pensions, job security, vacations and more for all American workers.

Not only is organized labor a strong presence on the job site, but union groups ?C such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters ?C are heavily engaged in politics.

Political issues including free trade agreements, 1099 employee misclassification, carpentry licensing, illegal immigration and much more are on the forefront of our agenda. We are working with representatives, senators and more on both sides of the aisle gaining support for the causes we fight for everyday.

I believe it is clear that the unionized construction industry, as well as other labor union groups, play a valuable and viable role that aim to protect the best interest of all workers ?C making organized labor relevant to all American workers, families, and businesses.

Mike Jackson is the executive secretary/treasurer for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.




Justice and back pay for more than 100 workers Posted by on

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office has reached an agreement with Diaz Construction of Avon, Massachusetts to pay 129 workers at total of $142,000 in wages owed for overtime work. They will also pay a $20,000 penalty to the state.

An investigation was started by the Attorney General's office after employees filed complaints with the help of NERCC Organizers. The investigation included an audit of Diaz' payroll records, showing that for at least two full years, July 2006 to May 2008, the company had failed to pay workers time-and-a-half for overtime hours.

NERCC Organizers educate nonunion workers about their rights and help them pursue remedies, including attempting to settle the dispute directly with the employer. If that is not successful the union will help workers pursue complaints with state or federal agencies. The cases most often involve workers who have been cheated out of wages, misclassified as independent contractors or are working in dangerous conditions.




Kronish named to MassDevelopment Posted by on

Rick Kronish, who works for the New England Carpenters Labor Management Program, has been named to the Board of Directors for MassDevelopment by Governor Deval Patrick.

Started in 1989, MassDevelopment is the state??s finance and development authority. They offer direct financing and consult with developers to find investors and help them connect with available public funding sources.

Kronish has worked with the Carpenters union in Boston directly and indirectly for close to twenty years. In addition to his work over the years with the Labor Management program, he served on the Board of Directors and was an interim President of First Trade Union Bank. First Trade was started by the Massachusetts Carpenters Combined Pension and Annuity Fund.




Impact on members of health care reform Posted by on

The House of Representatives?? vote to pass a Senate version of health care reform will lead to a dramatic change for many Americans, even some union members covered by one of the funds in New England.

The following information is provided by The Segal Company, a consulting company that works with benefit funds throughout the country, including carpenter union funds in New England. For even more information, visit this page.

Significant portions of the bill will not take effect right away??and some may still be modified??but there are some important changes that will benefit members and go into effect within the next year, such as:

? No lifetime benefit limits and only limited annual benefit limits
? Coverage for dependent children up to age 26, as long as they do not have access to other employer-sponsored health coverage (the reconciliation bill also assures that this coverage can be provided on a tax-free basis)
? No preexisting conditions for children under age 19
? No rescission of health coverage, except in cases of fraud (primarily an individual insurance policy issue)

Other items that are immediately effective include a Medicare Part D provision that provides that beneficiaries who are in a Prescription Drug Plan and who reach the doughnut hole in 2010 would receive a one-time $250 rebate, as well as a reinsurance program for pre-Medicare retirees (discussed below)

Additional reforms would be effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, including a ban on waiting periods over 90 days.

In 2011, Health Flexible Spending Arrangements, Health Reimbursement Arrangements, and Health Savings Accounts can only reimburse participants for over-the-counter drugs with a prescription written by their health care provider.




This could be your big break! Posted by on

Announcement recieved from the DIY Network:

THE DIY DOMINATOR, a new DIY Network series, pits three of the country??s top rough carpenters in a showdown for one grand prize. Competitors will face off in three rounds testing their speed, ability and problem-solving ingenuity in a battle royale of Nailing! Cutting! & Framing!

If you??re interested in competing and have the skills to be the best rough carpenter in the country, we want to know.

The showdown is tentatively scheduled for April 27th 2010 in Denver CO. Three contestants will get an all expenses paid trip to Denver with a three-day commitment, April 26-28. Competitors will compete for a grand prize and the right to be called DIY??s Carpentry Dominator!

For more info and to receive an application to participate, email Dominatorcasting@highnoontv.com with ??Carpentry_ YOUR LAST NAME?? as the subject line.

DIY DOMINATOR is produced by High Noon Entertainment, a Denver based television production company. High Noon Entertainment also produces DIY??s Cool Tools and Deconstruction, Food Network??s Unwrapped and Food Network Challenge, TLC??s Cake Boss and HGTV??s top-rated My First Place. DIY Network reaches over 52 million homes. The website, www.DIYnetwork.com, attracts 2.8 million users in a single month. Check out more at www.highnoonentertainment.com




what A GREAT job !back in the day the apprentices ... Posted by on

what A GREAT job !back in the day the apprentices sat in the local hall and looked at the chalk board while the teacher tried to show us,no chance for hands on,this is like going from single engine planes all the way to the space shuttle! the future of Boston is UNION!
thanks to the vision of the leadership for results not just dreams.




Gaming fight heats up in NH Posted by on

With many states facing widening budget gaps and demand for job creation, decision-makers are weighing expanded gaming in the form of casinos or slot machines. Though gaming has expanded significantly in recent decades??most notably at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut??many states have kept gambling limited to state-run lotteries or scratch tickets.

But those limits are expected to come down soon and the result would be increased state revenue and badly needed construction and permanent jobs.

In New Hampshire, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill that authorizes up to 17,000 slot machines at six locations, which includes three racetracks and three new casinos.

The bill will now head to the full Senate, where it is expected to have enough support to pass. It will then head to the House of Representatives, where it will face a stiff challenge to pass.

If passed, the licenses for two locations are expected to generate an initial $50 million, which would cover budget shortfall in the Department of Health and Human Services. If locations wanted to offer table games, they would pay an additional $10 million each.

Two more locations would pay $20 million each for slot licenses and $10 million each for table games. The final two locations would pay $10 million each for slots and $10 million each for table games.

Read more about this story here and here.




Conn holds panel on 1099s Posted by on

A joint committee consisting of labor and industry leaders as well as various state investigative agencies is suggesting much stiffer fines and criminal sanctions against employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal served as a co-chair of the group with Acting Labor Commissioner Linda Agnew.

Blumenthal called a crackdown on misclassification ??long overdue -- because it does devastating harm to taxpayers, workers and honest businesses.

The University of Connecticut found that misclassification costs the state more than $10 billion in unpaid workers compensation premiums, unpaid payroll taxes and medical care for workers that is not reimbursed.

Blumenthal and other state agencies have investigated more than 350 employers in the last two years for misclassifying workers. Hundreds of ??Stop Work?? orders were issued against contractors who were not properly covering employees with workers compensation.

The group has recommended to lawmakers changes that would increase penalties against employers who misclassify from $300 per incident to between $300-$1,000 per day for each violation.

Press coverage is linked below, including video of this week??s press conference at which Blumenthal expanded on the group??s findings and recommendations.

The Connecticut Network has posted video of the press conference.

ConnPolitics.tv and the Connecticut Mirror posted stories and the Hartford Business Journal has posted several stories on the issue in the past year.




Mass AG posts outreach job for FLD Posted by on

The Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General??s Office is hiring an Outreach Coordinator. The posting on the State??s website can be found here. Some details for the position are listed below. For full information, visit the link above.

Full-Time or Part-Time: Full-Time
Salary Range: $1,526.42 to $2,205.46 Biweekly

Duties:
The Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for serving as a liaison between the Division and community organizations, other public stakeholders and referring parties. Responds to inquiries from agency staff and others in order to provide information concerning Division procedures, including the filing of complaints. Maintains liaison with various private, local, state and federal agencies and others in order to exchange information and /or resolve problems. Other responsibilities include preparing Division outreach materials and providing outreach presentations to the public regarding the Commonwealth??s Wage and Hour laws. The Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for overseeing and responding to oral and written inquiries from the public about the Wage and Hour laws; making necessary referrals to other state and federal agencies; coordinating dissemination of public outreach materials; performing data entry using computerized case management system and word processing; maintaining records and analyzing data; and other office responsibilities, as assigned by the Division??s Chief and/or Deputy Chief.

Qualifications:
Applicants must have at least (A) two years of full-time, or equivalent part-time professional, administrative or managerial experience in business administration, business management or public administration the major duties of which involved program management, program administration, program coordination, program planning and/or program analysis, or (B) any equivalent combination of the required experience and substitutions

Preferred Qualifications:
Applicants should have at least two years of full-time, or equivalent part-time, professional or technical experience in related office work. Fluency in Spanish and/or Portuguese is preferred. Background in labor standards, as well as a JD or related degree, is preferred.

Comments:

The Office is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The Office actively seeks to increase the diversity of its workforce.

Please visit the Job Opportunities section of the Attorney General??s web site at
WWW.MASS.GOV/AGO for all job postings.

If applying for more than one position, send separate cover letters and resumes. Use the 10# as reference to position.

How To Apply:

Apply by submitting cover letter and resume to:

Sandra Macdonald, Recruitment & Hiring Coordinator
Office of the Attorney General
Human Resource Management Office
One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Inquiries regarding position & status may be made to: Amy Goyer, Chief of Investigations
(617) 727-2200 ext 2319




NH members rally for job creation Posted by on

Tradesworkers in New Hampshire recently rallied to support a legislative initiative that would expand gaming in the state, creating thousands of jobs and desperately needed revenue for the state.




Carpenters Center Project: From start to finish Posted by on




Carpenters Center: From start to finish Posted by on




Carpenters Go Green Posted by on





Signs of life in SEMass construction Posted by on

The New Bedford Standard-Time is reporting today on an increase in building permit applications in area towns, which it cites as possible signs of recovery for the area. The increase in activity is chalked up to numerous factors, including hungry bidders pushing down bid prices and the influx of stimulus money.

Carpenters Local 1305 Business Manager Ron Rheaume was a source for the story, and is quoted in it: "We're finally getting people back to work after what I call the Great Depression. The last two years have been the worst I've seen around here in my 36 years on the job. The last two years, it's been so depressing it's ridiculous."





MassINC to feature NYTimes labor writer Posted by on

MassINC, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Boston, will be hosting Steve Greenhouse, New York Times labor reporter and author of the book ??The Big Squeeze; Tough Times for the American Worker?? on April 7. The session, co-sponsored by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters will focus on the book, which details how the culture and conditions of the American workplace have changed over the years and the significant impact those changes are having on both white- and blue-collar workers.

Greenhouse will be introduced by NERCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich. The lunch meeting will take place at noon at the UMass club at the UMass Club, 225 Franklin Street, 33rd Floor in Boston.

To register for the free event, please visit this link.




Where'd the stimulus money go? Posted by on

Mark Erlich, head of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, chimes in on a story about the distribution stimulus money in Massachusettsin a story by Jay Fitzgerald of the Boston Herald.

??When they put together the stimulus program a year ago, they were talking about ??shovel-ready?? jobs and a second WPA,?? said Mark Erlich, head of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, referring to the Works Progress Administration??s building programs during the Great Depression. ??That clearly hasn??t happened.??





Carpenters Go Green Posted by on





Carpenters Union opens new headquarters in Dorchester Posted by on

As reported by Jon Chesto in today's Patriot Ledger:

BOSTON ?? New England union opens a new headquarters in Dorchester

Motorists on the Southeast Expressway are passing a new landmark on their commutes in and out of Boston: the new three-story headquarters for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

The 75,000-square-foot building??s exterior has essentially two faces: a modern wall along the highway and a more traditional cedar-paneled facade that can be seen from the neighborhood. Union spokesman Bert Durand said the mix was intentional, partly as a courtesy to the union??s residential neighbors and partly as a reflection of the union membership??s varied range of skills.

The most distinct feature is a 30-foot tall digital sign that can be seen from the expressway. The sign??s LED lights can quickly be reprogrammed to show a new image. The union is using the sign to promote the carpentry trade, as well as providing public service announcements and supporting favored political candidates.

The carpenters council relocated last month from its old headquarters on Summer Street in South Boston. The new building allowed the union to move its training facility from Brighton, as well as other operations, under one roof within the past few weeks.

The carpenters union had been looking for a new location for at least a decade, union officials said. Durand said the union also considered locations in South Boston??s marine industrial park and on Morrissey Boulevard.

The current site at 750 Dorchester Ave. was picked for several reasons, including the ample parking, visibility and easy highway access. The property is also convenient to the Red Line, as it sits between the Andrew Square and JFK/UMass stops.

The union bought the property in 2008 from an owner of Dirigo Spice for more than $5 million, although the site had fallen into disuse. The structure was originally built in the 1940s as a laundry for the Archdiocese of Boston. The old building was gutted and its second story was removed, and the carpenters used the first floor as a foundation to build a new second level and a third level.

Mark Erlich, the council??s executive secretary-treasurer, said the union spent about $19 million on construction. More than 900 union members participated in the construction project in some way, as subcontractors, apprentices or volunteers, Erlich said. ??We want our members to feel like it??s their building,?? he said.

To view the article online, including pictures, click here.





The building is beautiful, kudos to the Boston car... Posted by on

The building is beautiful, kudos to the Boston carpenters for going green and leading the way in modern construction.




Carpenters Union opens new headquarters in Dorchester Posted by on

As reported by Jon Chesto in today's Patriot Ledger:

BOSTON ?? New England union opens a new headquarters in Dorchester

Motorists on the Southeast Expressway are passing a new landmark on their commutes in and out of Boston: the new three-story headquarters for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

The 75,000-square-foot building??s exterior has essentially two faces: a modern wall along the highway and a more traditional cedar-paneled facade that can be seen from the neighborhood. Union spokesman Bert Durand said the mix was intentional, partly as a courtesy to the union??s residential neighbors and partly as a reflection of the union membership??s varied range of skills.

The most distinct feature is a 30-foot tall digital sign that can be seen from the expressway. The sign??s LED lights can quickly be reprogrammed to show a new image. The union is using the sign to promote the carpentry trade, as well as providing public service announcements and supporting favored political candidates.

The carpenters council relocated last month from its old headquarters on Summer Street in South Boston. The new building allowed the union to move its training facility from Brighton, as well as other operations, under one roof within the past few weeks.

The carpenters union had been looking for a new location for at least a decade, union officials said. Durand said the union also considered locations in South Boston??s marine industrial park and on Morrissey Boulevard.

The current site at 750 Dorchester Ave. was picked for several reasons, including the ample parking, visibility and easy highway access. The property is also convenient to the Red Line, as it sits between the Andrew Square and JFK/UMass stops.

The union bought the property in 2008 from an owner of Dirigo Spice for more than $5 million, although the site had fallen into disuse. The structure was originally built in the 1940s as a laundry for the Archdiocese of Boston. The old building was gutted and its second story was removed, and the carpenters used the first floor as a foundation to build a new second level and a third level.

Mark Erlich, the council??s executive secretary-treasurer, said the union spent about $19 million on construction. More than 900 union members participated in the construction project in some way, as subcontractors, apprentices or volunteers, Erlich said. ??We want our members to feel like it??s their building,?? he said.

To view the article online, including pictures, click here.





Hanover SJC arguments up for viewing online Posted by on

The arguments before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding Callahan, Inc the handling of prequalification and award of the Hanover (Mass) High School to Callahan, Inc are now available for viewing online at this site. The case is Fordyce v Town of Hanover.

The protest, filed by ten union members who are residents of the town, alleges that Callahan, Inc committed fraud when it took credit for another company’s work and should be removed from the job. The Massachusetts Attorney General joined the members as a party to the suit. They had previously issued an opinion that Callahan, Inc had misled the town, a ruling which the Town ignored.

Three contractors associations--Associated General Contractors (AGC), Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM) and the Utitility Contractors Association of New England (UCANE)—all of which represent both union and nonunion contractors in the state, filed briefs with the court in support of the union’s position.

Their involvement, highlights the importance of this case not just to Hanover, but to the construction industry statewide. The CIM-UCANE brief, in particular, illustrates the ways in which the integrity of the public bidding system would be severely undermined should the events in Hanover be allowed to stand. The AGC brief is also instructive.

As to the cost and time delays the Town has consistently cited as a reason for pushing forward with Callahan, Inc., the job was not really begun when the AG issued its determination that Callahan, Inc had lied on its SOQ. Minor site clearing had been done and a temporary parking lot was built. Options other than continuing with Callahan were certainly available to the Town at that point and subsequent to that. Please refer to Note 4 of the CIM brief on page 12:

“It should be noted that the public bidding statutes contain an “emergency” provision that, under certain exigent circumstances, empowers an awarding authority to bid a contract in an expedited manner if necessary and appropriate to safeguard the awarding authority’s interest. SEE G.L. c. 149, S 44A Where, as here, the awarding authority is confronted with late-discovered bidding irregularities that it believes may threaten the timing of the project, this “emergency bidding provision” provides a more than adequate mechanism for promptly and expeditiously re-bidding the project or otherwise rectifying the irregularities at issue. The availability of this alternative procedure (as well as the clearly articulated goals of the public bidding laws) makes the alternative of proceeding with a tainted contract even less justifiable.”


A decision on the case is expected within a week. If the action of the Town to ignore the fraud by Callahan, Inc and award them the job is not reversed it could seriously undermine the integrity of the public bidding process throughout the Commonwealth.

 





Mass SJC case on Hanover, Callahan now online Posted by on

The arguments before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding Callahan, Inc the handling of prequalification and award of the Hanover (Mass) High School to Callahan, Inc are now available for viewing online at this site. The case is Fordyce v Town of Hanover.

The protest, filed by ten union members who are residents of the town, alleges that Callahan, Inc committed fraud when it took credit for another company’s work and should be removed from the job. The Massachusetts Attorney General joined the members as a party to the suit. They had previously issued an opinion that Callahan, Inc had misled the town, a ruling which the Town ignored.

Three contractors associations--Associated General Contractors (AGC), Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM) and the Utitility Contractors Association of New England (UCANE)—all of which represent both union and nonunion contractors in the state, filed briefs with the court in support of the union’s position.

A decision on the case is expected within a week. If the action of the Town to ignore the fraud by Callahan, Inc and award them the job is not reversed it could seriously undermine the integrity of the public bidding process throughout the Commonwealth.
 




A Look Inside - The History Wall Posted by on

There are various touches throughout the facility that not only highlight carpenters work but add character to the building. One such feature is the History Wall located on the second floor.

Fourteen sepia-toned photographic images, mounted on ¾?? Plexiglas, hang on the walls starting at the second floor lobby and running down the hall in to the open area at the communicating stair that connects the first and second floors.



Twelve of the images are mounted on 3??x6?? panels and two images, which mark the beginning of the History Wall in the lobby, stretch across six 3??x6?? panels.



A memorial to the trade and its workers, the images date back to 1881 and run through present day, including three shots taken during the construction of the Carpenters Center.



The History Wall celebrates the membership of the Carpenters Union and the evolution of the craft through the years.





Workers issued checks for owed wages Posted by on

At least two workers employed on a project to convert a former hospital building into affordable housing in Bridgeport, Connecticut are receiving checks totaling close to $50,000 for back wages owed to them. Despite public money funding the project from at least three local and state agencies,the workers were not paid at the legally mandated prevailing wage rate by their employer, Fairfield County Drwyall. The Bridgeport-based company was a subcontractor for Viking Construction.

The workers received help in getting their wages from NERCC Organizers in Connecticut, including Ted Duarte, who says the initial contact was a byproduct of the good work of Organizers in the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters.

Duarte said that a carpenter on a job in New York was assisted in getting wages he was owed by Empire State Council Organizer Rich Craven. That carpenter was a friend of one of the drywallers on the Bridgeport job, who suspected he was owed wages. Craven spoke to him and facilitated a meeting with Duarte, who helped get state authorities involved.

"This is the way a lot of nonunion carpenters come to us, how they get to know about us and what we do," Duarte said. "They have a buddy who got stiffed on a job and got paid because a union organizer helped them. When we help them get paid hundreds or thousands of dollars, that word can really get around. Rich did good work for the carpenter in New York and it led to us being able to help two more guys get paid here."

One of the workers in Bridgeport was recently given a check in excess of $32,000 for sixteen weeks of pay he was owed. Duarte said he should be getting an additional $1,500. The other carpenter was paid about $11,000 and could have more coming, too, Duarte said.

Prevailing wage laws exist at the federal level and in many states to ensure contractors do not gain a bidding advantage by underpaying workers. Wage rates for building trades crafts workers are established through local area surveys, which determine the fair market value for hourly wages. Prevailing wage laws have helped protect a decent standard of living for the nation's construction workforce. They also ensure highly skilled crafts workers build with public dollars, rather than whoever is willing to work for less.





Middle Class Task Force issues annual report Posted by on

Last week, the Obama Adminstration released the first annual report from its Middle Class Task Force. The group, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, was established with the goals of
* Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities
* Improving work and family balance
* Restoring labor standards, including workplace safety
* Helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes
* Protecting retirement security

Working with eight cabinet secretaries and the directors of four Executive Branch agencies, the Task Force has worked to identify challenges facing the existing middle class and future access to education and worker development that have helped grow the middle class.

Top-to-bottom reviews of policies and services were supplemented by meetings and comment periods to solicit the concerns of workers, businesses and leaders of industries that support the middle class.

??The goal of this Task Force has been clear from the start - to make sure the middle class emerges from this recession able to grow stronger and more secure than before it began,?? said Vice President Biden. ??We??ve spent the past year traveling the country talking about the economic challenges facing the middle class. As a result, the initiatives we lay out in this report offer specific solutions to improve the quality-of-life for middle class families everywhere.??





More from Maine on Misclassification Posted by on

The following article appeared in the York County (ME) Journal Tribune.

By KRISTEN SCHULZE MUSZYNSKI
City Editor/ Journal Tribune
Revisions are underway on a new law that was created to enforce tax laws but has unintentionally made it difficult for some independent contractors to work in Maine.

The law, "An Act to Enforce the Misclassification Law for Construction Workers," became effective Jan. 1 and incorporates a new 12-part test to determine whether a construction worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

It was created to crack down on employers who have been avoiding paying for worker's compensation insurance and some federal taxes by mis-labeling employees as independent contractors. The law goes hand-in-hand with federal efforts that began this month to increase enforcement and regain the taxes that are lost each year to misclassification.

"It's a huge concern, not only in Maine but nationally," said Paul Dionne, executive director of the Maine Workers Compensation Board.

According to a 2005 Harvard Law School study, an estimated 3,213 construction workers in Maine were misclassified between 1999-2002. Income tax revenue is lost from these workers, costing the state an estimated $2.6-4.3 million annually, the study states, and up to $6.5 million of worker compensation premiums are not paid annually for these workers.

The governor's task force on worker misclassification submitted its first annual report Thursday, citing progress in increasing education about the issue and improving inter-agency communication.

Unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, health insurance and other employee benefits are not available to those who are misclassified as independent contractors, the task force report states.

Misclassified workers are found in several fields, but the practice is more prevalent in the construction industry. The task force report notes that the Maine Department of Labor reviewed unemployment audits and found that the misclassification of employees occurred in 29 percent of employers audited across all industries in 2004; 39 percent in 2005; 43 percent in 2006; and 41 percent in 2007.

"It's been running loosey-goosey and now it's become the norm," said John M. Leavitt of Saco, business manager of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. "It's unbelievable that it got this unraveled."

Task force members heard testimony from various people who have been negatively impacted by worker misclassification, as noted in their annual report: One worker told the task force about hospital bills he couldn't pay because he had been misclassified, while a Maine taxi company told the force about being driven out of business by competing cab companies who misclassify their employees.

An amendment to the new law is currently being considered that would allow the state to shut down work on a construction site until the insurance is purchased and prohibit the contractor from taking on any public projects for three years.

That change would be a "real attention-getter," said Leavitt. Those workers who avoid paying worker's compensation insurance will always be able to bid lower than those who follow the laws, said Leavitt ­ an estimated 30 percent less.

"It is a great expense (to purchase insurance), but there is an expense to running a business," he said. "There's a responsibility to the employees and the industry. It's not a matter of fair or unfair, it's illegal. People who say it'll hurt their business, that's not a business, that's a guy who's beating up his workers to make a profit."

Problems have arisen, however, for independent contractors who have found that the new law requires them to re-apply for their status each time they get a new job or new employer.

"It's been very difficult for independent contractors to apply for a number of jobs," said Dionne. "If they get 40-50 jobs a year, they need to apply each time if the insurance mandates it." In response to concerns from contractors throughout the state, the Labor Committee of the Legislature has been reviewing the bill in the past few months for revisions.

"It's a difficult situation," said Rep. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, who is chairman of the Labor Committee. "In the weeks ahead, we hope we can work something out." Along with the proposed penalties, a shorter application form has been developed to determine independent contractor status and it will be made an annual request, said Dionne. The approval will also be made portable between employers.

"What we're trying to do is simplify the process for everybody," he said.
Dionne stressed that the form is not mandated by the state or the workers' comp board, even though insurers such as MEMIC have been requiring employers to show who is an employee or an independent contractor, to determine premiums.

Tuttle said the bill was originally intended to address the concern that some workers have no worker's compensation insurance, and to protect those employers who follow the laws.

City Editor Kristen Schulze Muszynski can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext.
322 or kristenm@journaltribune.com. The Journal Tribune is located in Biddeford, Maine.





Bid dispute over Hanover HS argued at Mass SJC today Posted by on

A suit regarding the bidding of work for construction of a Hanover, Massachusetts school was heard by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court this morning. At issue was whether the town acted improperly when it qualified and hired Callahan Construction for the work, despite their failure to meet legally mandated requirements.

Callahan appeared to mislead the awarding body when it took credit for a previous project that it did not complete. Further, the project did not fall within the three-year period required by law.

After the town awarded the job to Callahan, two lawsuits were filed against Hanover—one by an HVAC contractor, the other by ten residents of Hanover. Kirt Fordyce, a retired union carpenter and Business Agent from Local 424, was the lead complainant in the resident suit.

The Attorney General’s Office had advised Hanover to refrain from awarding the job, pending their review of the bid protest. Hanover ignored that request and awarded the job to Callahan. The town then also ignored a later finding by the Attorney General that Callahan had misled the town during the bid process and allowed the job to continue.

A Superior Court Judge then issued an injunction against the Town of Hanover preventing Callahan Construction from continuing work on a $37 million high school. The ruling found the suits clearly established a reasonable likelihood that Callahan had engaged in fraud in qualification documents, that the public interest favored issuing an injunction, and that any additional costs to the Town resulting from an injunction "would be the product of the Town's own doing."

An Appeals Court judge reversed that decision, at which time the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reached down and pulled the case from the appeals process.

Oral arguments will be available for viewing online at this site within four days. The case is KIRK [sic] FORDYCE & others vs. TOWN OF HANOVER & another. The docket number is SJC-10643.
 




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