Members in Rhode Island have been helping families faced with one of the harshest realities of a volatile economy, homelessness. For many years, members of Carpenters Local 94 have been raising funds for the Rhode Island Family Shelter, located in Warwick.
Carpenters Local 94 holds an annual Dollars for Food Drive to raise money for the shelter.In addition to the monetary donations, carpenters have volunteered time and labor on site to help with various projects throughout the facility. These projects include a complete renovation of the basement, creating meeting space and a large playroom.
Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters announces the union's endorsement of former Governor Angus King for United States Senate. The text of his entire statement is below.
"My name is Mark Erlich and I’m the head of the New England Carpenters union.
"We’re proud to have close to 20,000 members in Maine and the region’s other five states under our umbrella. And if anyone thinks they all look the same, act the same or think the same, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. They don’t even sound the same. But there is a core set of beliefs -- the desire for decent wages, quality benefits and safe jobsites. Our members hold a variety of views on social issues, but they all know that “the best social program is a job”.
"We believe in partnerships. We know that in order for our members to succeed, our employers have to be competitive. We invest in training to ensure that quality and productivity offers a higher value for project owners. We provide contractors flexibility in hiring. And we have created a culture where hard work on the job and involvement in the community and our democracy is expected, not just suggested.
"Frankly, we’re pretty proud of the way our union is able to balance different interests in our industry. We look for the same in politics.
"We value the kind of independence and balance that Angus King represents.
"He’s been an entrepreneur, a fan of capitalism, but recognizes our system is not always perfect. Angus King knows that some regulation can go too far and shackle our economy. But he also knows that the abuses we saw four years ago in the financial system are unacceptable and have left a legacy of destruction in our industry and its workforce.
"Angus King has written critically about some of the trade agreements that the United States has negotiated. He has called for fair rather than free trade so that local workers and businesses that play by the rules are not undercut and subjected to unfair competition.
"Angus king is a fair and thoughtful man whose experience and independence are unquestioned. At a time of gridlock in our nation’s capital where scoring political points has become more important than salvaging our economy, Angus King will stand out as a voice of reason. Angus King knows that government can and must provide needed checks and balances.
"Like our union, Angus King is committed to solutions, not slogans. For all these reasons, the New England carpenters are proud to support Angus King as the next senator from Maine.
In new report card, Republican Scott Brown fails to support new jobs and Massachusetts’ middle-class
Today, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters issued a report card on Senator Scott Brown’s failing efforts to support job-creating programs and middle-class families across the Commonwealth. Senator Brown received an F on today’s report card for opposing numerous jobs bills that would have supported thousands of good-paying jobs in Massachusetts, opposing the extension of essential unemployment benefits, and failing to fight for fair wages for working men and women.
"Try as he may, Scott Brown cannot run away from his votes along national Republican Party lines,” said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Council of Carpenters. “Whether it's unemployment benefits, jobs bills, or standing up for fair wages, Scott Brown is not on the side of working families right here in Massachusetts. The attempts to re-make his image cannot mask his record. He sides with huge corporations and Wall Street instead of the thousands of Massachusetts families still looking for jobs.”
Today, the New England Carpenters gave Senator Brown an “F” for failing to stand up for working families. The grade was based on the following key votes:
American Jobs Act
-Would have cut payroll taxes for 140,000 MA firms
-Supported 11,100 MA jobs
[Roll Call Vote 160, 10/11/11]
Rebuild American Jobs Act
-Would invest $850 million in MA infrastructure including roads, bridges highway
-Would not add to the deficit.
[Roll Call Vote 195, 11/3/11]
Extending Unemployment Benefits
-8 votes to extended unemployment benefits to tens of thousands of MA residents who were out of work
Banker and Tradesman ran a piece this past Sunday about the lack of awareness shown by property owner Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. and Marriot management regarding what was happening on their $18 million renovation project.
Earlier this year, Union carpenters, painters and other union members demonstrated twice a week for months at the site against Baystate Interiors, Inc. of Woburn for undermining area standard for carpenters' wages and benefits.
Investigators for the state task force on the underground economy found that contractor’s working on the renovation project failed to report $1.2 million in wages, which cost the state $86,000 in taxes. Investigators from the state task force on the underground economy also found that 63 employees were misclassified as independent contractors. Read more here. http://www.nercc.org/blog/p/1713
Scott Van Voorhis, the author of the piece notes that “the allegations that recovering drug addicts imported from Philadelphia were paid $4 an hour – half the state’s already measly minimum wage – are sorry enough. But the defense of the hotel’s owners – they just didn’t know what was going on with the contractors – is just as indefensible when it comes to savvy business management in a major metro market.”
Read the Banker and Tradesman piece in its entirety here.
The Stamford Advocate ran another piece covering the areas standards demonstrations at the Harbor Point apartment complex. Contractors working for Harbor Point developer Building Land Technology (BLT) are working in Connecticut but not hiring Connecticut workers, not paying Connecticut wages and not meeting are safety standards.
The Connecticut Department of Labor's Wages & Workplace Standards Division has issued 34 "Stop Work Orders" to contractors working at Harbor Point over the last two years, continuing a string of bad practices and bad press for the city and the project's developer, BLT.
"It's disheartening to see so many out-of-state workers on the job at Harbor Point because the unemployment rate in the construction industry in Connecticut is twenty percent to thirty percent,"said Tim Sullivan, Local 210 Organizer .
As a result of the the protests by union carpenters at the Boston Marriott Copley Place renovation project, state investigators found improper activity by fifteen companies that worked on site.
Contractor’s working on the renovation project failed to report $1.2 million in wages, which cost the state $86,000 in taxes. Investigators from the state task force on the underground economy also found that 63 employees were misclassified as independent contractors.
In the article printed in the Boston Globe, a lawyer representing Baystate Services, the general contractor that oversaw the renovation of the hotel said “it, too, was unaware of labor violations.”
Earlier this year, Baystate agreed to pay $31,000 in back wages to 37 Victory Outreach workers who received illegally low wages for 3 months of work. Read more about Victory Outreach here.
Unfortunately, state law protects the privacy of companies accused of tax violations. Even in a case like this, with widespread labor violations, investigators are blocked from state laws from charging contractors and property owners.
Read more about the results of the investigation by the state task force online here. To view a PDF of the article, click here.
Clive McFarlane reports for Worcester’s Telegram & Gazette
Labor organizer Manny Gines looks like the professional ex-boxer he is.
His clean-shaven head is anchored to a solid, stocky frame with tattooed arms and strong hands.
But it is his eyes that acutely betray his former pugilistic days. They look at you measuredly, as if working out the timing of a right cross or left uppercut.
His battleground is no longer in the boxing ring, however. It is in the local trenches of the country’s underground economy.
For years now Mr. Gines has been visiting and picketing construction sites at which he suspects the presence of illegal work activities.
He is constantly working with clients who come to him with claims of being abused, underpaid or not paid at all by their employers, a role that has placed him on a first-name basis with those in the state attorney general’s office who monitor the underground economy.
A union member fighting on behalf of non-unionized and oftentimes undocumented workers would seem counterproductive, but Mr. Gines sees himself as protecting legitimate businesses from unscrupulous employers.
Over Labor Day weekend, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette ran a story about the impact of the recession on the construction industry. While the story mentions that “over the last six years, the construction industry in Massachusetts has lost almost a third of its jobs” it also talks about the success of two Local 107 apprentices, who joined the Carpenters Union in the middle of the recession and have worked steady since. Read the entire article online here. For a PDF version, click here.