Congratulations to members of Local 1305, who are getting a well deserved pat on the back from the Fall River Herald News for their volunteer work to build a concession stand and restrooms for Durfee High School. The paper featured the union's work in a front page story and praised them in an editorial piece.
A Boston neighborhood struggling to fight off longstanding problems with crime, exacerbated in recent years by foreclosure, may be starting to make lasting change thanks to coordinated neighbor activity and housing improvements fueled in part by union carpenters.
Two years ago union contractor Bilt Rite renovated four buildings on Hendry Street in Dorchester, largely with the help of union carpenter apprentices as part of city program to initiate change. More on those efforts here.
This weekend, the Hendry Street Neighborhood Watch will celebrate efforts to improve the neighborhood and seek greater resident involvement. The Dorchester Reporter published a story on the event, putting it into proper context regarding work in the neighborhood.
This event follows the neighborhood watch group??s June 6 meeting, which attracted 47 new Hendry Street resident members. Saturday??s block party will be a way to gather even more members and commemorate the club??s work since its inception last summer, said organizer Beto Rosa, community organizer at the Dorchester Bay EDC.
In many ways, Saturday??s event will act as a backdrop to the work done by the Dorchester Bay EDC in relieving foreclosure pressure in the area. The area around Coppens Square had been known as the ??hotbed of the foreclosure crisis,?? says Jeanne DuBois, executive director of the Dorchester Bay EDC. DuBois says that a key part of neighborhood stability is to ensure that invested residents own and occupy houses. This, combined with the community organizing efforts of the Hendry Street Neighborhood Watch, can improve the neighborhood.
??This area had a history of crime and lawlessness,?? DuBois said. ??Little by little, the Hendry Street Neighborhood Watch is taking it back.??
Congratulations to the residents of the Hendry Street neighborhood and union carpenters who played a part.
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has enhanced carpenters.org "to include more timely news along with expanded information, images and video content for UBC members," according to a memo from General Secretary-Treasurer Andris Silins.
"It also showcases UBC training and productivity for visitors from the construction industry and the general public," the memo said.
The site now includes members-only pages to support members and get them more active in UBC legislative and political action efforts. Members who sign up as "e-activists" will be able to easily keep up to date on relevant issues and add their voices to those of fellow members speaking to elected representatives in Washington.
Soon, members will receive an e-news alert about pending federal trade legislation, encouraging them to contact their Senate and Congressional representatives to discuss the issue. Information about the legislation has previously been posted on NERCCBlog.com and carpenters.org. The UBC e-news alerts will be similar to NERCC's Council Update, which is regularly emailed to members of NERCC affiliated locals.
"Online communication is an essential tool for the UBC, and I trust you will find that this improved Internet presence serves our members, our trade, and our Brotherhood well," Silins wrote.
All members are encouraged to visit carpenters.org, share information with fellow UBC Brothers and Sisters and sign up to become "e-activists" in the members-only section of the site.
The Portland Phoenix continues to confirm what most suspect: Maine Governor Paul LePage isn't really a policy wonk who pours over issue papers and carefully crafts his own legislation and plans of action. Trouble is, they've confirmed that his staff doesn't really work their fingers to the bone with those messy details, either. Turns out what they're really good at is CTRL+C, CTRL+V (copy and paste).
"In most cases, language from the industry and lobbyist's memos was copied word-for-word into LePage's reform proposal, suggesting the governor and his staff made little effort to analyze or shape policies themselves."
The article reveals that legislation LePage ended up submitting didn't even match up with his own positions. The investigation of how LePage does his job is troubling, according to some.
"Directly photocopying from lobbyist's wish lists is problematic in the message it sends on how seriously he takes his job and how much he is weighing different interests," says Ron Schmidt, head of the political science department at the University of Southern Maine. "I would think that would make a lot of citizens uncomfortable."
In contrast to the likes of Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Scott??Republican governors who have clear personal engagement with their extremist agendas??LePage is almost buffoonish, a weapon rather than a warrior in the corporate war on the environment and workers. But the damage to a state is the same, regardless of whether the governor came up with the ideas himself or just cut and pasted them as directed by his corporate masters.
When Vertex finalized a deal to move 1,300 employees from Cambridge locations to a massive new development in Boston's Fan Pier, it was considered a significant hit for Cambridge. But now another biotech giant is easing that pain considerably. Biogen Idec, which moved from its Cambridge location for a new facility in Weston last year, is planning a return to Cambridge.
The Boston Globe reports that the company is planning to move more than 500 employees to two new buildings in Kendall Square.
The company wants to break ground on its new office buildings there later this year. One will be a 190,000-square-foot building with an address of 17 Cambridge Center; it will be developed by Boston Properties. The other will contain about 305,000 square feet across Binney Street and will be developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., which is planning to construct five new buildings in the area in coming years.
??East Cambridge will see 1.5 million square foot of construction get underway in the next six to seven months,???? said Steve Purpura, a partner with the real estate firm Richards Barry Joyce & Partners. ??In any other market, you lose a tenant like Vertex, and everyone is running for cover, but Cambridge didn??t miss a beat.????
In a fight picked by Republicans in retaliation for Democratic recall efforts, State Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay walloped Republican David VanderLeest in what the GOP had considered a very winnable seat.
Hansen read the results as the first step in a Democratic comeback. It's only the beginning,he declared at a victory celebration.
Of course Hansen would say this, but Contorno pointed to the Democrats impressive ground operation in the race. One senses that the energy in these recalls will be on the Democrats side, a bigger than usual advantage in mid-summer contests where turnout will be key. And there is normally no better time than August to get attention. If Democrats manage to take over Wisconsin's State Senate in reaction to the actions of a very ideological conservative governor and legislature, the event will have reverberations far beyond Madison.
The Cape Cod Times posted this article about carpenters demonstrating yesterday, including quotes from NERCC Representative Brian Richardson. The target of the demonstration was Advantage Construction, which is undermining the standard for carpenters' wages and benefits while building at Balise Ford in Hyannis. The project is one of several where carpenters have demonstrated in the last few weeks about Advantage Construction.
"We know what they're getting paid and it's significantly less than area standard," said Brian Richardson, a protest participant and the director of organizing for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. Related Stories
In Wednesday's demonstration, about 40 carpenters chanted, waved signs and blew whistles in front of the new Balise Ford location on High School Road, where the dealership is being renovated. Last Friday, about 50 protesters marched outside the recently constructed showroom at Hyannis Toyota on Route 132.
Balise Ford manager Mark Caliri declined to comment on the protest, saying that the issue is between the union and the construction company.
The target of the demonstrations has been Quincy-based Advantage Construction, the construction management company overseeing the work at the two dealerships. Advantage Construction pays workers $20 to $25 per hour, Richardson said ?? far less than the $50 that he said is the standard hourly rate on Cape Cod.
Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters joined Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas and other dignitaries at a ribbon cutting last week for the Appleton Mills project in Lowell. Erlich's comments at the event can be read here.
The project involved the conversion of an old textile mill into 130 units of housing. Space within the units and in common areas was designed to attract artists. The NERCC Communications Department visited the site last summer and produced this video of the project in progress.
A fire at a Quincy, Mass. apartment complex built by Avalon Bay has spurred an investigation into whether inadequate fire stopping in the attic caused the total loss of the building. The Quincy Patriot-Ledger reported that investigators found draft stopping in the attic at the Faxon Park Apartments was not continuous, as required, undermining its ability to limit the spread of a fire started on a top floor balcony. Investigators believe that with proper fire stopping, the fire would not have spread so quickly and engulfed the building so completely.
All 24 units in the building were destroyed in the fire. It was one of five buildings AvalonBay built and later sold. Inspectors are now looking into the remaining buildings to check on the construction of firestopping in those attics.
As Congress considers "free" trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama, UBC General President Doug McCarron has written to members of the House and Senate, with a detailed argument for why they should be defeated. McCarron cites the history of increased trade deficits, borrowing by the government and a loss of jobs in the United States.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette published a story today about the rennovation of the historic James House in Northampton into space for two community groups; The Literacy Project (TLP) and the Center for New Americans (CNA). The rennovation was done with the help of union carpenters.
Brother Jon Avery was on hand and quoted in the story: "We're part of this community," said John Avery, a representative from the local carpenters union, explaining why Local 108 got involved. "We believe in all of the things that government does."
The MetroWest Daily News published a story on a public meeting held in Framingham by Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray. Brother Steve Joyce was on hand and quoted asking a question about construction jobs.
Developers across the Boston area are moving forward with a number of large construction projects that were stalled by the recession, creating thousands of jobs and ending one of the state??s most prolonged building slumps. ~~~~ But the impact on jobs will not be immediate, as many developers still must clear other obstacles before starting construction. And while some projects are moving forward, many others remain stalled or are barely inching forward, leaving union leaders skeptical that the recovery will proceed fast enough to help the long-term unemployed.
??I??ve been at a number of groundbreakings where pictures are taken and the right things get said, but then nothing happens,???? said Mark Erlich, executive secretary of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. ??The iceberg is melting, but icebergs melt slowly.????