Blog

Viewing: Construction Industry
Page
of 3

Tocci signs union agreement Posted by on

On Friday, February 13, NERCC signed a collective bargaining agreement with Tocci Building Corp of Woburn, MA.

John Tocci is the third generation leader of a nearly 100-year old family-owned business. Unlike his father and grandfather, John led his company out of the union sector of the industry in the 1970s. For many years, the Carpenters Union and Tocci went down different paths, frequently in an adversarial position.

Nearly a year ago, conversations began between the two organizations about shared views of the industry, including a common commitment to skill, training, productivity, and innovation. John Tocci has become a national spokesman for BIM, LEAN, and other systems designed to promote collaboration and innovation in the industry and is seeking to bring that approach to owners that typically build on a union basis.

According to Tocci, "This partnership will yield positive results and new opportunities for our firm." NERCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich agrees. "Our mission is to ensure that every carpenter in New England works for decent wages and benefits and under safe conditions. Bringing Tocci into the fold means that, going forward, the carpenters on their jobs will be treated with the respect they deserve."





Carpenters recruit by showing off training center Posted by on

There's welcome news for construction contractors in New England worried about a current or looming skilled labor shortage. Today, more than 900 students currently enrolled in vocational high schools or programs are visiting the New England Carpenters Training Center in Millbury, Massachusetts today.

During their visit, they're learning more about the comprehensive training programs available in the diverse carpentry trade. They're also seeing some of the most sophisticated facilities in the country, combining state-of-the-art shop and work space with classrooms, dormitory, dining and recreation space.

Though some students may have experience in limited aspects of the industry, today's tour gives them a comprehensive view of the trade, work conditions and career opportunities available to trained, motivated and supprted trades workers.

A lack of skilled trades workers is consistently cited in surveys by employers as a limiting factor for company growth and their ability to deliver consistent quality work. Contractors signatory to the Carpenters union have the advantage of joint training programs and fairly negotiated wage and benefit packages that attract the most qualified applicants.

For more information on training programs visit nercc.org/training





Labor Guild releases Fall schedule Posted by on

The Labor Guild's School of Labor Management Relations has released its schedule of classes for the fall semester. Classes begin September 15th and run through November 10th. All classes are held in one of two periods between 7:00 - 9:30 PM.

Classes will return to SEIU 1199's Dorchester facility for the Fall 2014 term. Local 1199 is located in the Corcoran-Jennison Building, 150 Mount Vernon Street, Dorchester, at the Bayside Expo Business Center. 

A full class list is available at laborguild.com.

The mission of the Labor Guild is to provide engaging, high-quality, affordably-priced Labor-Management education. Each term, 8-10 courses are offered in a variety of topic areas including: labor law, negotiations, union goverance, leadership, public speaking,and economics. 

For more information, visit laborguild.com or call 781-340-7887.





Senate Republicans' Latest Attack on Davis-Bacon: A Sign of the Future? Posted by on

Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah has filed Senate Bill S2617 which, if passed, would pave the way to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. That would put millions of carpenters at risk of being paid less than the prevailing wage. Visit the UBC's website here to learn where your government representatives stand on Davis-Bacon, and vote for those who support the basic right of earning a fair wage.





Rebuilding a community, not just a building Posted by on

In early 2009, an electrical fire damaged a Worcester building that served as a home to the Stone Soup Community Resource group, a collection of volunteer organizations. With plenty of community support, but scarce funding, the group faced an uncertain future. Local 107's Dave Minasian was an active member of Stone Soup and was able to organize help from friends in the union and the New England Carpenters Training Center to join an effort to make the space usable again.

YouthBuild Boston served as the general contractor on the project. YouthBuild helps low-income young adults between the ages of 16-24 work towards their GEDs, while learning job skills through training and pre-apprenticeship programs. In need of skilled labor to partner with, Local 107 member volunteers and apprentices working under the direction of NECTC instructors stepped up and became an integral part of the rebuild process.

The green rebuild included fire repairs, energy retrofit weatherization work, electrical and heating system updates, and wheelchair accessibility improvements.





Congressman Himes (CT) calls for infrastructure repairs Posted by on

There could not have been a more fitting site for a more important issue. Last week, Congressman Jim Himes was joined by state elected officials, labor leaders and business leaders at the Yankee Doodle Bridge in Norwalk, calling for a long-term solution to crumbling infrastructure.

The Yankee Doodle, which carries traffic on Interstate 95 over the Norwalk River, is the most structurally deficient bridge in the state. It was originally built in 1958 and awaits $15 million in repairs, slated to start in 2017. It is one of thousands of road and bridge projects whose maintenance or replacement have been put off to the point of posing an extreme danger to the public.

The National Highway Trust Fund received approval for a $10.8 billion infusion from the United States House of Representatives last week, but has not been acted on by the Senate. The allocation would only temporarily prevent the fund from becoming insolvent next month. It would not solve the problem of creating a long-term solution for funding road and bridge repairs in the United States, which are vital not only to public safety, but economic growth.

Road and bridge repair and construction leads to direct employment of tens of thousands of construction workers nation-wide, many of whom would face unemployment if the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money. Members of the UBC as well as other building trades unions, employers and supporters are being urged to visit Hard Hats for Highways (http://hardhatsforhighways.org/) and send an e-hardhat letter to congress to urge them to enact a long-term plan.

Coverage of the event at the Yankee Doodle Bridge can be found at the Stamford Advocate, the Norwalk Hour and It's Relevant.
 





Bay State Drywall carpenters win union election Posted by on

 In an election held last night in Southeastern Massachusetts by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), carpenters employed by Bay State Drywall voted for union representation from the Carpenters union by a 10-8 margin. The Freetown-based company is one of a group of contractors in the Fall River-New Bedford area, sometimes referred to as "drywall alley," that draw carpenters from the substantial Portuguese population. During peak season, they typically employ 40-50 carpenters and have been one of the larger nonunion companies in the market.

Representatives from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters have become familiar faces to Bay State employees over the years thanks to countless jobsite visits, which created a level of trust. When there were disputes with the owners over restoring pay cuts made during slow times, the workers decided to go forward with a union election.

Negotiation of an agreement with Bay State cannot start until after the NLRB resolves a union challenge to the uncounted ballots of six employees that Bay State had argued should be included in the election. Those employees are primarily tapers and the Council has taken the position that they do not fall under the definition of a carpenter bargaining unit. A Board ruling on the matter may take as long as two months.

"I'm proud of the carpenters who had the courage to stand up to the company and proud of our staff that led the organizing drive," said Mark Erlich, NERCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer. "NLRB elections are not that common in the construction industry and this victory sends a message that we will use every tool at our disposal to represent working carpenters in New England."





Graduates begin to build pathways Posted by on

Eight women recently completed the five-week pre-apprenticeship Building Pathways New Hampshire training program. Building Pathways New Hampshire is a cooperative effort of the Carpenters Union, the State Building and Construction Trades Council and the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. It provides pre-apprenticeship training to unemployed and underemployed women in hopes of building the female ranks in the construction industry.


“We are working to diversify our trade and provide a pipeline to all interested and qualified people, which means we end up with the best possible workers, not just some of the best possible workers,” notes Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Liz Skidmore, who has been active in both local and national "Sisters in the Brotherhood" programs and is helping to coordinate the Building Pathways NH program.


Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Liz Skidmore speaks to the graduates. 

The five-week course was held at the Carpenters Training Center in Manchester and began on May 12th. The pre-apprenticeship training including OSHA 10, First Aid/CPR, construction math, materials handling, blueprint reading, labor history, blue collar financial planning.

The program aims to introduce participants to the variety of work opportunities available, in a hands-on environment. This training was offered by various trades’ training programs including: Carpenters Local 118, Floorlayers Local 2168, Piledrivers Local 56, Boliermakers Local 29, Heat and Frost Insulators & Allied Trades Local 6, IBEW Local 290, Ironworkers Local 7, Laborers Local 668, Painters and Allied Trades DC 35, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 131, and Sprinklerfitters Local 669.


Building Pathways graduates look at their completion certificates.

“All of these women were either unemployed or were working minimum wage jobs before beginning this pre-apprenticeship program,” notes Skidmore. “They are going from $7.25 an hour with no benefits to starting at $15 and hour plus benefits. This really is moving these eight women into family-sustaining careers.”

All eight graduates have applied to various trades Apprenticeship Programs. Two have already been accepted into the Plumbers and Pipefighters Local 131 Apprenticeship Program.

“Programs like Building Pathways New Hampshire show the community and elected officials a bigger picture about what it means to be union. We want everyone who is qualified, capable and willing to work hard.” 

For more information about the Building Pathways New Hampshire program click here.
 





NERCC to be recognized at White House Summit Posted by on

The efforts of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, as part of the Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues to increase women’s participation in the construction trades, are being recognized nationally at the White House Summit on Working Families this Monday. NERCC Business Representative Liz Skidmore will represent the NERCC and the PGTI at the event, which is being hosted by the White House and the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden will be attending the event.

The White House planning committee for the Summit asked the National Task Force on Tradeswomen's Issues for two "Best Practices" for getting more women into the trades. The Task Force presented them with the Minnesota Vikings stadium project, which set hiring goals and has hired a lot of women, and the work being done in New England by NERCC and the Policy Group on Tradeswomen's Issues (PGTI), which is convened by Skidmore, Susan Moir of UMass Boston Labor Resource Center, Brian Doherty of the Boston Building Trades and Janet Jones of the Dorchester Roxbury Labor Committee.

The PGTI has established a multi-stakeholder strategy of bringing key players together over time to build relationships, share expertise, identify and implement solutions. The group has met at the Carpenters Center every other month for six years and includes city, state and federal officials; General and sub-contractors, academics, compliance officers, tradeswomen, and union leaders. During this time they have published two reports: Unfinished Business, an analysis of all research done on tradeswomen in the last 25 years in the US with policy recommendations and Finishing the Job, a how-to manual for meeting hiring goals on specific construction projects. 

Women's employment has risen from 3% to 6% of all hours worked in Boston over the last few years, a statistic made even more significant when considering the simultaneous increase in the number or work hours over the past two years.

Additional work being done by PGTI that has earned them recognition as a national best practice includes moving from 35 years of supply-only (recruitment and pre-apprenticeship training) to a supply and demand strategy that includes the supply work and adds demand - working to improve compliance with hiring goals. As a result of their work, the Integrated Science Center at UMass Boston building project, which is the first project in Boston that has met hiring goals for all three established goals (residents, minorities and women) over the course of the project.

PGTI has also compiled compliance numbers online in searchable, downloadable databases by a number of entities including the City of Boston, UMass Boston (for their $700 mil PLA), and the MA Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards. These databases are now being used by GCs and project owners to review past compliance history and in evaluating which contractors to hire.

As stated on the summit’s website, “the White House Summit will convene businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates and citizen to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families and ensure America’s global competitiveness in the coming decades.”

Learn more about the work of the PGTI by visiting their website here. To follow the events happening during the White House Summit on Working Families click here.





Response to Globe column on housing Posted by on

Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, issued the following in response to Shirley Leung's June 4 Boston Globe column about middle class housing development in the city.

"Shirley Leung’s June 4 column on the “deafening whisper campaign” that attributes the high cost of building middle class housing to overpaid union construction workers is a shallow and misguided analysis. Yes, there is a housing crisis and all hands need to be on deck to achieve the City’s goal of 20-30,000 new units. But labor makes up less than 25% of total housing production costs and is rising far more slowly than land, fees, and other soft costs.

"The reality on the ground is that hundreds of non-luxury units are under construction in East Boston, Allston-Brighton, and Jamaica Plain – all with union labor. Further, our members have built most of the non-profit development community’s affordable housing in Boston’s neighborhoods.

"Sadly, Leung has listened to a handful of whisperers comfortably located in up-market offices and condos who seek to eliminate the job opportunities of the very men and women who are the middle class Bostonians that the City’s housing policy is designed to accommodate."





More cheaters caught in CT Posted by on

The Connecticut Department of Labor has issued six "Stop Work" orders so far this week, two on a Stamford project and three more at an Apple store in West Hartford. All six were the result of subcontractors not having legally required workers' compensation insurance coverage in place.

Shane Gordon Drywall, of Stamford, Marcelo Drywall of Bridgeport and Arco Steel Company, of West Caldwell, New Jersey were each hit with the orders yesterday at 66 Summer Street in Stamford. The companies were working for Trinity Financial on Phase 2 of the Park Square West project, which includes 194 residential units.

Some workers on the project recently reported to union representatives that they were employed by Intext, a company that was already caught for misclassifying workers as independent contractors in April at UConn.

In West Hartford, three subcontractors identified in press reports only as being from out of state were issued stop work orders while working for California-based general contractor Dickinson Cameron. Gary Pechie, head of the Wage and Workplace Standards Division of the Department of Labor reported that contractors had ignored the orders and continued work. He has issued $1,000-a-day fines and scheduled a meeting with Apple officials.
 





Carpenters support event for low wage workers Posted by on

In the last year, fast food workers across the country have been building a campaign to raise wages in their industry. The campaign has given energy to efforts to raise the minimum wage nationally and in states and communities across America. But the fast food industry isn't the only one where massive profits are generated and an unreasonable gulf exists between the compensation given to employees in corporate offices and those on the front lines.

From health care to hospitality and construction to customer service, too many workers are being paid too little for working so hard. In Massachusetts, an upcoming event aims to elevate their cause.

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters is joining individuals in Boston and Springfield on June 12 to support low wage workers. Hosted by Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, the Low Wage Worker Day of Action will bring information and focus attention on people who work hard and still struggle to support themselves and their families. More than that, it will encourage workers to begin standing together and acting together in a way that will make a difference.

The event matches the efforts of the Carpenters union who monitor nonunion construction sites and build relationships with nonunion carpenters. All too often, nonunion carpenters are not provided the wages and benefits they deserve, given the level of skill required and risk present on today's construction sites.

In Boston, the event will be held at Copley Square, in Springfield it will be at the Mount Calvary Church at John Street and Plainfield Street (Rt 20A). Both events will take place from 4-6 pm. Union carpenters, friends and families are invited and encouraged to participate.





CT DOL issues 3 "Stop Work" orders Posted by on

The Connecticut Labor Department has issued “Stop Work” orders against three construction companies at a shopping center construction site at 230 Industrial Park in Old Saybrook, for failing to provide the required state workers’ compensation coverage or unemployment coverage for their employees.

Two contractors, Alvin Quality Masonry LLC and Industrial Technical Services Inc. were issued “Stop Work” orders after inspectors from the Wage and Workplace Standards Division determined that the contractors, working on the Big Y supermarket project, did not have workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance coverage for employees. G&F Group LLC was issued a stop work order on the Kohl’s building project for failure to have workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance coverage and for misclassifying its employees as independent contractors.

“Stop Work” orders result in the halting of all activity at a cited company’s worksite, as well as a $300 civil penalty for each day the company does not carry workers’ compensation coverage as required by law.

The New Haven Register, The Day, The Bristol Press,  Insurance News Net and Shoreline Times reported on the story.

To view a PDF of these articles, click here.





Multi-million dollar tax giveaway in Fitchburg under scrutiny Posted by on

The Carpenters union is calling on local and state officials to rescind tax breaks given to a company for a project on which they and seven others had already been ordered by state investigators to stop work for legal violations. The violations were found less than three months before the tax package was announced. Further evidence gathered by investigators, which should have triggered an investigation for tax fraud, was apparently ignored.

In December, Great Wolf Lodge and others were ordered to stop work on their Fitchburg project by the Department of Industrial Accidents after a site visit revealed they did not have workers' compensation policies in place for construction workers. One of the employers told investigators at the time that “he had four employees on site who are being paid in cash, they receive their direction and control from Mr. Viveiros, all tools and equipment belong to him.” Two weeks later, an Organizer for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters visited the site and found the same employment conditions for other contractors on site.

In March, the state announced approval of a group of tax break packages, including $17.2 million for the Great Wolf Lodge. Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters sent a letter of concern to Greg Bialecki, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Development, which approved the tax breaks.

"The lack of oversight on a project involving $17 million in tax relief should be a matter of grave concern to the Patrick administration. The violations were committed before the tax relief was awarded. That relief should be rescinded," said Erlich in the letter. "Without any further action on Great Wolf, the Commonwealth is sending an unfortunate message to its taxpayers and legitimate contractors that recipients of tax relief are rewarded regardless of illegal business practices."

"Great Wolf promised in its application that it would not knowingly hire subcontractors or other third parties that did not have Massachusetts workers' compensation insurance. Great Wolf's Senior Director of Design and Construction acknowledged the "Stop Work" order to a newspaper."

Misclassification of workers as “independent contractors” is an illegal, but unfortunately common model used in the construction industry to provide unscrupulous contractors with a significant advantage in a highly competitive industry. Misclassification costs the state and federal government hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and strips workers of important workplace protection, as well as the right to unemployment and retirement benefits.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Summary List of Stop Work Orders
1. Great Lake Services dba Great Wolf Lodge of New England (WI)
2. Colonial Tile and Flooring (Clinton, MA)
3. Timothy Michael Locklear (NC)
4. Villnave Construction Services (VCS) (NY)
5. Wisconsin Exteriors & Drywall (WI)
6. Butters Fetting Co. (WI)
7. States Drywall (WI)
8. Weber Group (IN)





Seems like a clear objective, right? Posted by on

Union Carpenters continued their show of support for the "Jobs Not Jails" campaign over the weekend in Boston. Among the members of Local 107 and 108 who attended a rally on the Boston Common were NERCC Council Reps Rocky Thompson and Manny Gines, who were visible in this story on Boston Channel 7s news coverage.

Carpenters Locals 107 and 108 endorsed the Jobs Not Jails campaign this month. It is calling for the Commonwealth to spend $2 billion building schools, roads, and other public projects rather than building and expanding prisons.

The group is looking for volunteers to hold up banners covered with 30,000 petition signatures around the State House from 11:00 AM- 1:00 PM next Wednesday, April 30th. For more information about the campaign, including ways to help, visit JobsNotJails.org.





Economists Forecast Uptick in Private Construction as Public Project Spending Dips Posted by on

Construction spending and employment will rebound from lower levels recorded in previous years as 2014 progresses, with growth expected to continue into 2015, a group of economists said during an April 17 webcast sponsored by Reed Construction Data.

Read more here





"Groundhog" Day at UConn? Posted by on

At least one contractor that was ordered in late February to stop working on the $32 million expansion of the UConn basketball complex because they didn't have a workers' compensation policy returned to the project. Union carpenters and students of the university have started to inform the public with a large banner in front of the project and stories in the Hartford Courant and the campus newspaper.

Intext Building Systems, Inc. of Glastonbury and JV Construction of East Hartford were issued "Stop Work" orders from the Connecticut Labor Department after a visit to the site. There were issues with workers being misclassified as "independent contractors" and some of the 19 workers could not identify their employers.

J&V Construction was found to have owed $368,000 in back wages to workers and is still barred form the site, but Intext has taken on their workers, raising questions about whether there are still issues.

Chris Gallo, a member of Carpenters Local 24 who went to work on the site after the "Stop Work" orders were issued told the Courant "It's absolutely horrible- The whole job was just a mess. We go there in the middle of it, and we get it all straightened out, and we find out the guys who messed it up are back again. How would you feel? I'm losing my job because of it. Hopefully they get a building they're looking for."





More taxpayer money wasted in Hanover Posted by on

Statement issued by Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters regarding today’s decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Hanover v New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

We always knew the Town’s case was baseless, and was just retaliation for helping to organize the taxpayer lawsuit over the new High School a few years ago. The Massachusetts Supreme Court agreed.

The way the Town of Hanover has handled this has been disappointing from the start. Despite being given information that should have led them to do otherwise, they have instead wasted taxpayer dollars to defend giving a contract to a contractor that lied to them and attack those who wanted to protect the Town.

The Town ignored serious flaws in the bidding process, defended a contractor they should have been dismissing, and then tried to retaliate after citizens exercised their constitutional rights to challenge the Town’s actions.

In dismissing the Town’s lawsuit, the Court was applying a state statute that is designed to protect parties from retaliation or punishment for exercising their constitutional rights. And the Court essentially concluded that’s just what the Town was doing in suing the Carpenters Union.

The real question for the residents of Hanover is: “How could the Town have wasted taxpayer resources to pursue a case like this in the first place, given its obvious failings?” And now, the Town will not only have its own legal bills to pay, but it will have to pay the Carpenters Union’s legal expenses as well.

UPDATE: The Boston Business Journal and Quincy Patriot Ledger/Hanover Mariner published stories on the case.
 





Everett mayor finds out for himself Posted by on

An unhappy Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria has a few questions for Fairfield Residential after an in-person visit to a project in the city. Fairfield is converting the old Charleston Chew factory into luxury apartments. The project has been touted as a producer of quality housing stock, but also good employment for Everett-area workers.

 When DeMaria spoke with a couple of carpenters on the project, they told the mayor they were being paid in cash on a piece-work basis and weren't getting any benefits. They were working for Wendy's Drywall, a subcontractor to VPS Drywall, a subcontractor to Metric Construction, the general contractor for one of the buildings on the project. Metric has had issues in the past with hiring subcontractors who don't meet area standards.

VPS continues a bad history. The company was ordered by the Massachusetts Attorney General to pay workers more than $4,000 in wages due to prevailing wage violations on the controversial Hannover High School project. They were also hit with more than $3,700 in fines by OSHA for safety violations, including one the agency deemed a "serious" violation. Finally, they were investigated by the United States Department of Labor for failing to pay workers more than $40,000 in overtime wages. They agreed to pay $17,500.

Carpenter Ramon Ochoa with Mayor DeMaria, NERCC Organizer Mario Mejia, Local 218 Business Agent Richard Pedi and Carpenter Moises Urias.

 Fairfield Residential is national builder and manager of multi-family housing that claims to be a leader in their industry. They claim they often work as their own general contractor and can effectively manage designs, budgets and time-lines.

 DeMaria was not happy to hear workers talk about being treated this way in his hometown and committed to following up to see that things were changed and didn't happen again.

An adjacent building, being built by union wood framers is progressing without incident.

 





Carpenters ready to build big in Springfield Posted by on

A story at BusinessWest.com highlights the efforts by MGM Grand and the Carpenters union to ensure that local workers are given priority consideration for work opportunities during upcoming construction of a casino in Springfield and that those jobs come with good wages and good benefits. Carpenters Local 108 Business Manager Jason Garand, who led the effort for a memorandum of agreement with MGM, is prominently featured in the piece.

Garand points to the work the union completed at Baystate Medical Center--and the way the hospital structured the contracts to encourage hiring from the area--demonstrated how the MGM project can succeed, even at a much larger scale.

Building trades unions in Massachusetts are currently working with casino developers to craft labor agreements that could create consistency in standards and working conditions for all facilities being proposed in the state.





Revere again votes yes on casino Posted by on

Plans for Mohegan Sun to build a $1.3 billion hotel and casino at the Suffolk Downs horse track in Revere were approved by voters in that city for a second time yesterday. The fate of the project still hangs in the balance, as it will now go head-to-head for state approval for the single Eastern Massachusetts gaming license with a proposal by Steve Wynn in Everett. State officials are expected to hand down a decision in May or June. Union carpenters in Revere played a significant role in the campaign to approve the proposal, as they have in each of the gaming votes across the state.

Yesterday's vote was the second held for a proposal at the site. An earlier version was voted down by Revere and Boston voters, which led to modifications of the project so that the gaming facility would sit entirely on the Revere portion of the Suffolk Downs property.

As part of the state's approval of legalized gaming, three gaming licenses will be issued for casinos and one for a slot parlor. One casino license will be issued in a zone in western Massachusetts, one in a zone that covers the central and eastern part of the state, excluding southeastern Massachusetts and one is being held for a proposal for a Native American-owned proposal in southeastern Massachusetts. MGM Resorts has received local approval for a casino in Springfield, the only pending proposal for the western zone. A proposal for the southeastern zone is still pending.

Three slot parlors proposals by different developers are under consideration for locations in Raynham, Leominster and Plainville.





CT Governor Malloy's budget gets Carpenter support Posted by on

Dave Jarvis, an organizer with the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, appeared before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee to testify in support of Governor Dan Malloy’s recently submitted Fiscal Year 2015 Mid-Term Budget.

Governor Malloy’s Mid-Term budget includes funding for six additional employees at the Department of Labor to investigate complaints and ensure employers comply with wage and workplace standards.

Jarvis urged members to support the Governor’s proposal to beef up wage and workplace enforcement as the Connecticut construction industry continues to be plagued by employers—many from out of state--who fail to properly pay their workers’ wages, misclassify their workers as independent contractors or pay them cash “off the books.”

Last year alone, the Wage and Workplace Division of the Connecticut Department of Labor handled more than 3,500 claims and recovered over $6.5 million in unpaid wages to 1,701 Connecticut workers. The Wage and Workplace Division also issued 181 Stop Work Orders to employers at construction sites who were found to be in violation of workers’ compensation and labor laws.

“It’s nearly impossible for Connecticut contractors who obey our state labor, tax and worker’s compensation laws to compete against unscrupulous companies that break these laws to gain a bidding advantage,” said Jarvis. He added, “Construction is becoming a magnet for predatory employers. The Wage and Workplace Division is on the front lines of protecting Connecticut workers and employers from these predatory contractors.”





Building a future for Essex Agricultural Posted by on

Thanks to Chris Marzullo, a Local 26 member working as a Foreman for G.O. Services. Brother Marzullo sent us pictures of a pole barn they're building for the new Essex Agricultural School in Danvers, Massachusetts. The new school building itself is being built by union carpenters employed by Gilbane and their subcontractors. The pole barn is one of several out-buildings that are or will be completed as part of the project.

 





At a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday... Posted by on

“The damage was so bad they had to take bones from my wrist and hip,” Anderson testified Tuesday before a Senate labor subcommittee. “And the doctors also needed to take bones from a cadaver to do the reconstruction.”

Because he was an independent contractor, Anderson was unable to collect workers compensation. He had become an independent contractor, he said, because his employer, Dave & Marty Inc. of Michigan, had said it was the only way he’d be able to continue working with the company."

Read more here

Click here to watch a carpenter and a contractor testify at the hearing. 





Globe features Erlich piece Posted by on

The Boston Globe today published an opinion piece by Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

As inequality grows, 'union candidate' offers attractive vision
11/12/13
Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh was labeled as the union candidate early in the race. Columnists and debate moderators manufactured a perspective that Walsh’s labor affiliation was his candidacy’s albatross. Walsh does have a strong personal and family union background and recently served as the head of Boston’s building trades unions. But he had also been a state representative for 16 years with a legislative record on a full array of public policy issues.

Read more...

 





Walsh unites Boston, elected Mayor Posted by on

Buoyed by the support of a broad coalition that included union workers, minority communities, small business owners and middle class residents, State Representative Martin J. Walsh was elected Mayor of Boston last night, defeating City Councillor John Connolly. Walsh will succeed the enormously popular Thomas Menino, who is the city's longest serving mayor.

The following statement is from Mark Erlich, Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which endorsed Walsh in both the primary and general election. Erlich is also a Boston resident.

"Last night, Marty Walsh was elected to serve as the next Mayor of Boston. Marty's victory has implications far beyond the city's borders. Boston is, in many ways, the primary economic engine of New England and the leadership at City Hall sets the tone for the regional development and construction industry. For the past 20 years, Mayor Tom Menino has been a staunch ally of construction's union sector and his stance has helped our members find gainful employment in Boston and beyond.

"Marty's election will only serve to further elevate the profile of unions in our region. As a building trades leader who spoke proudly of his involvement in the labor movement, his victory flies in the face of the prevailing political winds that dismiss or attack the value of unions in today's society. Marty had to withstand withering attacks in the Boston media that claimed he would bankrupt the city by not being able to stand up to the city's public employee unions. Marty never backed down from his loyalty to organized labor as the best vehicle to re-build the middle class in the city.

"This election has national implications. While there have been a few Senators and Congressmen that have been clear about their pro-union beliefs, it is far more rare to find someone running for an executive position -- Mayor or Governor -- who doesn't feel the need to criticize unions in an effort to show they are "fiscally responsible". Marty made it clear that you can be committed to running a sound budget in a major American city and still maintain respect for trade unions.

"Marty was also able to win the support of nearly all of the elected officials from the city's minority community, demonstrating that today's labor movement is welcoming, diverse, and inclusive.

Marty is a personal friend of ours, a friend of the Carpenters, a friend of labor, and a friend of all those people who want to work, play by the rules, and have a chance at the American Dream.

Thanks to everyone who worked to get Marty Walsh elected. It can be the beginning of a new era for labor and politics."





Carpenters on election day Posted by on

Boston voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new Mayor and City Council. Many of these race extremely close, so we urge you to vote and encourage others to vote. If possible, be active on election day in support of candidates endorsed by the Carpenters union.

Members will gather for election day activity at 11 am at a location nearest their home. Locations are listed below.

Dorchester--McKeon Post
East Boston--973 Saratoga Street
East Boston--18 Meridian St
Hyde Park--214 Neponset Valley Parkway
Jamaica Plain 668 Centre Street
Mattapan--Russell Auditorium
South Boston--Ironworkers Local 7
West Roxbury--46 Rockland St, West Roxbury
Fields Corner--1157 Dorchester Ave
Roxbury--155 DudleySt
West Dorchester--Russell Auditorium
CoC/4 Corners--Russell Auditorium
Charlestown--Teamsters Local 25
Back Bay/Beacon Hill/South End--11 Beacon St
JP/Hyde Square--315 Centre St

 





Mayor Menino and HUD Secretary Donovan celebrate revitalization project Posted by on

An event was held yesterday to celebrate the start of a major revitalization project happening in Dorchester’s Quincy Corridor. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan to celebrate the project, which is funded by a first-in-the-nation Choice Neighborhood Initiative grant.

Members stand with Boston Mayor Tom Menino and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan at an event held at the Quincy Street Corridor Redevelopment Project.

Project Developer Dorchester Bay EDC and the City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development received $20.5 million through HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiatives grant program. Boston was one of five cities nationwide to receive the first-ever Implementation Grants.

At the start of the event, Jeanne Dubois from Dorchester Bay EDC raises her arms to celebrate the work being done by union carpenters on the project. 

The project will include redevelopment of the distressed Woodledge/Morrant Bay HUD-assisted housing development, community improvements such as community facilities, parks, gardens, economic development, job creation and asset building, and supportive services for residents of Quincy Heights and the surrounding Quincy Street corridor.


 





Enforcement against cheating businesses jumps in Mass Posted by on

More than $21 million has been collected from employers in Massachusetts who violated labor laws in the last 18 months, according to the annual report of the Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification. The amount represents more than the total that was recovered in all previous years.

The joint task force was created in 2008 and was a welcome development to union carpenters and others who had been working to bring attention to the issue of misclassification. Tens of millions of dollars in state and federal revenue are lost each year due to employee misclassification while employers who play by the rules are put at a competitive disadvantage and workers are stripped of essential protections such as workers' compensation coverage and eligibility for unemployment insurance, Social Security and Medicare.

The issue is especially acute in the construction industry, where the fairness of direct competitive bidding can easily be undermined by a bidder misclassifying employees as independent contractors to save 20-30% on labor cost. Perhaps the largest recent case involved more than $1.1 million in unreported wages found at the renovation of the Boston Marriott Copley Place, where one contractor was paying $4 an hour to employees who were recruited from a substance abuse program in Connecticut. Contractors were issued more than $100,000 in fines on the project.

"The work of the Task Force is invaluable in reducing the growth of the underground economy in the state's construction industry," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. "Taking on the illegal practices of wage theft, misclassification and tax and insurance fraud creates a more level playing field, which ultimately benefits legitimate employers, tradesmen and women and taxpayers."

The joint task force brings together various state agencies, including the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division, the Insurance Fraud Bureau and others.

Both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald covered the issue.
 





New London enacting local hire, training ordinance Posted by on

The city council of New London, Connecticut has approved an ordinance that will require contractors bidding for city construction projects valued at more than $1 million to hire local workers and provide apprenticeship training. New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has pledged to sign the ordinance when it reaches his desk.

The ordinance was proposed by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and publicly supported by members and NERCC Business Representative Chris Bachant. It passed the Administration Committee before winning a vote of the City Council the following week.

"This ordinance allows a percentage of workers from New London or New London County be required to work on a job,'' Bachant told the New London Day. "And any company working on a city project must comply with the Connecticut apprenticeship program. This is an opportunity. It's not just a job. We're offering a career."

There was opposition to the ordinance among the city council and from the editorial page of New London Day. Following the vote of the full city council, Mayor Finizio published an opinion piece in the Day rebutting criticisms of the ordinance and restating his support.

"Low bidder rules for construction projects, without the protections that this ordinance provides, favor the success of bids that use lower quality and less trained workers. While a bid awarded may, in today's dollars, be less than a union construction bid, the buildings built are not of the same quality," Finizio wrote.

"A responsible contractor ordinance, combined with appropriate budgeting for routine maintenance, will lower costs to city taxpayers in the long term by building, and maintaining, better quality buildings."
 





Enforcement against cheating businesses jumps in Mass Posted by on

More than $21 million has been collected from employers in Massachusetts who violated labor laws in the last 18 months, according to the annual report of the Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification. The amount represents more than the total that was recovered in all previous years.

The joint task force was created in 2008 as a result efforts by the Carpenters union and others to educate Governor Deval Patrick, state legislators and leaders of several executive branch agencies who enforce laws and policies related to employee misclassification. Tens of millions of dollars in state and federal revenue are lost each year due to employee misclassification while employers who play by the rules are put at a competitive disadvantage and workers are stripped of essential protections such as workers' compensation coverage and eligibility for unemployment insurance, Social Security and Medicare.

The issue is especially acute in the construction industry, where the fairness of direct competitive bidding can easily be undermined by a bidder misclassifying employees as independent contractors to save 20-30% on labor cost. Perhaps the largest recent case involved more than $1.1 million in unreported wages found at the renovation of the Boston Marriot Copley Place, where one contractor was paying $4 an hour to employees who were recruited from a substance abuse program in Connecticut. Contractors were issued more than $100,000 in fines on the project.

"The work of the Task Force is invaluable in reducing the growth of the underground economy in the state's construction industry,” said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. “Taking on the illegal practices of wage theft, misclassification and tax and insurance fraud creates a more level playing field, which ultimately benefits legitimate employers, tradesmen and women and taxpayers."

The joint task force brings together various state agencies, including the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, the Insurance Fraud Bureau and others.

Both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald covered the issue.





Wage equality, training the focus of NH forums Posted by on

People in New Hampshire are learning more about unions and the wage and training opportunities they offer thanks to panel discussions being held, which elected officials and Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Elizabeth Skidmore.

The forums focus primarily on the wage gap between men and women and are being sponsored by the NH AFL-CIO and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, which is 23 cents and hour in New Hampshire and 18 cents nationally. While women are still under-represented in construction, Skidmore points out that wage equality is not an issue in the union sector.

“In union construction, women make exactly the same as men,” Skidmore said at one of the forums. “Starting 35 years ago, when women started getting into construction. Every hour we work, every dollar we get paid, we get paid exactly the same.”

In addition to collective bargaining agreements ensuring equal pay, unions also offer apprentice and journey level upgrade classes, which allow for entrance and advancement in the industry. Each of the forums, held in Manchester and Portsmouth, received prominent media coverage, including quotes from Skidmore.
 





Frightening protest in Hartford Posted by on

Legendary horror author Stephen King may be looking for a UPP t-shirt. The Maine native was staying in Hartford this week, walked by a union banner protest in front of the Capital Grill, and stopped to ask about it. NERCC Business Representative Dean Pallotti told King that the Capital Grille was being built by contractors that don't meet area standards and were suspected of misclassifying workers as independent contractors. Darden Restaurants owns the Capital Grille chain as well as others, including Longhorn Steakhouse. The company is in the process of building a Longhorn in Enfeild, where there is also concern about contractors being used who don't meet area standards. King extended his support to the union's efforts, saying it didn't seem right since he pays his fair share of taxes.





Raids flush out more crooked contractors in Connecticut Posted by on

A series of sweeps of construction sites in Connecticut this year has resulted in 27 "Stop Work" orders against contractors for misclassification of workers as "independent contractors." The results continue a disturbing trend in the state's construction industry. In the past year, the Connecticut Department of Labor reports that inspection and review of 108 construction projects and 299 contractors has resulted in 199 "Stop Work" work orders, an alarming rate of cheating.

"Some employers will misclassify workers as independent contractors with the intent of avoiding their obligations under federal and state employment law covering such matters as workers' compensation, unemployment taxes and payroll reporting," said state Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer. "Unfortunately, when an employer fails to pay for the proper coverage for injuries suffered on the job, and a worker gets hurt, the state's taxpayers ultimately foot the bill."

Avoiding tax obligations gives cheating employers a significant advantage in competitive bidding and negotiated pricing within the construction industry and creates a funding gap for state and federal governments, among other problems.

Media coverage here.





Carpenters highlight thefts at Botany Bay Posted by on

NERCC staff recently spoke to a group of five workers employed at the Botany Bay development in Worcester who were owed more than $25,000 in wages and began making noise about it. Regular bannering was done at the site and last week a rally drew members of Local 107, representatives of the MetroWest Worker's Center, religious leaders and Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera.

The event led to pieces in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and Vocero Hispano, which highlighted the wage theft and the unwillingness of the project developer to do anything but turn a blind eye. The bad publicity may force his hand, though, as regular events are gaining attention and the support of the community.
 





Architects predict strong construction growth Posted by on

The American Institute of Architects is confidently projecting strong growth in nonresidential construction this year and next, with increase of 5% in 2013 and 7.2% in 2014. Commercial construction is expected to lead the way in growth, followed by industrial work, while institutional construction will grow at a slower pace. The AIA is basing its predictions on a comparison of its own "Architecture Billings Index" with forecasts from six different industry groups. The consistency in forecasts leads them to believe they will be very reliable.





State, Feds raid Stamford mega-sites Posted by on

The Connecticut Department of Labor was joined by the US Department of Labor, OSHA and local and state police in raids of at least four construction sites in Stamford last week in an unprecedented effort to crack down on payroll fraud. The Stamford Advocate covered the raids and published a column by Angela Carella calling for developers to clean up their businesses.

The raids targeted three sites being built by Building and Land Technology and another by Greenfield Partners. The sites have all previously been the target of numerous public complaints as well as demonstrations by union carpenters and other trades workers. The Harbor Point project being built by BL&T has also been the site of numerious enforcement actions. More than 34 "Stop Work" orders had been issued at the project prior to last week's raids.

Investigators talked to more than 200 workers, according to media reports, and will sort out possible violations in the coming weeks after reviewing those interviews.
 





Contractor: Being union is beneficial to all Posted by on

David Rampone, President of Hart Engineering, a signatory contractor based in Cumberland, Rhode Island isn't shy about being a union contractor. Last year he volunteered to be one of the latest union contractors to do a radio ad on behalf of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. Now, he's published an opinion piece in the Providence Journal explaining why his business is better with a union partnership. Click through to read it.

The following opinion piece appeared in the January 10 print edition of the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

The benefits of employing unionists

DAVID RAMPONE

Regarding Charles Chieppo’s Dec. 20 column, “Unions are 1 percenters in Mass.,” in which he portrayed the construction industry inaccurately:

As the chief executive of a major Rhode lsland construction firm that does work all over New England, I’ll set the record straight. I am the president of Hart Engineering Corp., a general and process mechanical contractor founded over 70 years ago and based in Cumberland.

While I have read several opinion pieces by “public-relations experts” articulating the “evils” of the unionized construction industry, it needs to be pointed out that these experts have no actual experience in the construction industry and draw their conclusions based purely on anecdotal information provided by those who wish to see the unionized construction industry fail.

For the record, the National Labor Relations Act lets construction companies decide for themselves whether to be affiliated with the industry’s trade unions. It is the only industry that has such a provision. Since its inception, our firm has made the business-driven decision to be affiliated with several trade unions — a decision that has been beneficial to both our company and employees.

Currently we employ more than100 union tradesmen and women on dozens of jobs, large and small, throughout New England. These employees receive a fair wage, full health-care benefits and pension contributions — a package that lets them provide their families with a respectable standard of living. And in light of the negative attention cast on public-sector unions in these times, note that unionized construction workers are not guaranteed employment. In fact, Rhode Island unionized construction workers average about 1,500 hours worked a year. They do not receive vacation time, sick days or holiday pay, nor do they receive any benefits if they do not work the required number of hours a year — usually between 1,200 and 1,400, depending on the trade union involved.

Beyond my own company, the performance of Rhode Island’s trade unions and union contractors speaks for itself. There are more than 200 local contractors with union agreements in the Rhode Island area, and there have been more than 50 all-union project labor agreements (PLAs) worth billions of dollars completed in this area, including most of the state’s highest-profile projects. Most of these PLAs have been in the private sector.

These agreements symbolize the marketplace at work. Owners, construction managers and contractors enter into these agreements for one reason only: It is in their best interest to do so. And why? The trade unions in partnership with their contractors invest millions of dollars annually recruiting, training and retraining their workers to provide the safest, most skilled workforce in our industry. In today’s world, owners want their projects completed safely, on time, under budget and to the highest level of quality possible. That is why owners from small firms to Fortune 500 companies enter into project labor agreements.

While there are far fewer PLAs in the public sector than in the private sector, they are becoming more prevalent. However, before any public entity in Rhode Island can implement a PLA, it must complete an independent “objective and reasoned” study that recommends their use.

The trade unions’ record of providing contractors and owners with a safe and productive workforce is unmatched in our industry. Those who oppose them assert that using nonunionized workers would provide the owner with great savings. Unfortunately, those savings are usually the result of substandard wages, failure to provide health-care benefits to employees, or misclassifying employees to pay them a lower wage.

For 70 years we have provided our clients with the safest, most capable and productive work force in the industry, and our employees with a fair wage and benefits for them and their families. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve with our union partners.

David Rampone is president of Hart Engineering Corp., in Cumberland.  





The Carpenters Union gets the job done! Posted by on

First they helped it win approval, now they're helping it become a reality. Union carpenters in Bridgeport are now building the Fairchild Wheeler Multi-Magnet School, a combination of facilities and programs that are bringing excitement and hope to a troubled area. The building will be LEED Gold Certified and offer Aeronautics, Information Technology and Zoological/Ecological programs underwritten by corporate sponsors. The 340,000 square foot building is the largest school project in Connecticut's history and is employing hundreds of local trades workers.

 

See more of this project and others in NERCC's Project Portfolio.

 

 





Misclassification crackdown, publicity Posted by on

Misclassification has been a serious problem in the construction industry for years, and something against which the Carpenters union has led the fight locally, regionally and nationally. Union efforts resulted first in greater understanding and awareness among elected officials and now regularly lead to enforcement and publicity on the issue that is either directly a result of union action or an indirect result of efforts initiated by the union.

Two items broke this week that reinforce that point. In Worcester, Telegram and Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane wrote about efforts by NERCC Organizer Manny Gines to chase down employers who cheat by misclassifying workers as independent contractors or cheat them out of their wages.

McFarlane's column ties into an announcement earlier in the week by the Executive Office of Labor in Massachusetts that more they had found more than 2,300 workers misclassified by just three employers. Though the three companies were not involved in the construction industry, the eye-popping $11 million in unreported wages and millions of dollars the state should have received for unemployment insurance payments generated new stories that put the issue in front of the general public.





Construction shows job growth, but slow Posted by on

News from the US Department of Labor on construction employment was slightly positive in October with the addition of 17,000 jobs in preliminary data. Jobs in the construction industry increased for the fifth consecutive month, reaching 5.53 million. The trend that could continue following rebuilding efforts tied to Hurricane Sandy.

The industry still has a ways to go to reach employment levels enjoyed before the recession. Seasonally-adjusted employment numbers showed more than 7.7 million construction jobs through much of 2006, but then heavy, steady job losses in the industry from October of 2008 through February of 2010s. Since then, employment numbers in the industry have varied month-to-month between 5.45 and 5.56 million jobs.

The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' website has an interesting graph and table tracking seasonally adjusted jobs in the construction industry, starting in January 2002.





Mass Senate race comes to the Carpenters Center Posted by on

 

United States Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren visited the Carpenters Center recently to speak with members about issues of specific interest to union carpenters. She took questions from members and spoke individually with members before and after the event. Thank you to Elizabeth Warren for coming by and thank you to every member who cared enough to come out and get involved.





New England Carpenters Give Scott Brown A Failing Grade On Creating Jobs, Supporting Working Families Posted by on

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: 

 

 

Class

Score

American Jobs Act

-       Would have cut payroll taxes for 140,000 MA firms

-       Supported 11,100 MA jobs

 

Yes     No X

 

[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.

Yes      No X

 

[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

 

Yes      No X

 

[HR 4213 otes 48, 194, 200, 204, 209, 215; HR 4851 votes 116, 117, 3/10/10 through 7/21/10]

Prevailing Wage Protections

-       Effort to ensure construction workers are paid fair wages on federal transportation projects

 

  Yes      No X

 

[S. 223 vote 11, 2/3/11]

To Confirm President Obama’s NRLB Nominee

-       To nominate Craig Becker to the NRLB

 

  Yes      No X

 

[Roll Call Vote 22, 2/9/10]

 





Recession hit construction industry hard Posted by on

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

 





MA Construction Unions support Warren's 'Rebuild Now' plan Posted by on

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters, along with the Massachusetts Building Trades Council and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, officially announced their support of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's "Rebuild Now" infrastructure investment plan.

Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, and Frank Callahan, president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council ,told reporters that the industry needs a boost and that a plan like Warren's has the potential to put its members back to work.

Read more online here.





Economy continues to fluctuate Posted by on

The Boston Globe reports on economic concerns in Massachusetts, where a net reduction in jobs occurred for the first time since November. Though the unemployment rate is fairly steady, concerns are mounting that the slow recovery could be slipping away. NERCC's Mark Erlich is quoted.





Worcester passes new REO Posted by on

The Worcester City Council this week voted to move forward with a newly proposed Responsible Employer Ordinance for public construction in the city by a 9-1 vote. The result comes after an anti-union contractor association and corporate-backed "research" group threatened long, expensive litigation if the ordinance was passed.

The City of Worcester has had a Responsible Employer Ordinance in place since 2005, but the City Manager had suspended portions of it recently out of concern that the entire ordinance would be eliminated on legal challenge. Councilors worked with various groups to re-write portions of the ordinance--most significantly to retain the language requiring contractors to participate in apprentice training programs--to put it on safer legal ground.

The Merit Construction Alliance, which represents nonunion contractors, has been using the Worcester Regional Research Bureau to back its opposition to standards for public construction in the city. According to GoLocalWorcester.com, the Worcester Regional Research Bureau is "privately funded by a host of corporate sponsors." Their top sponsors consist mostly of banks, law firms and insurance companies. When a City Councilor asked for clarification on who the group was and what function it serves, the head of the organization claimed she was somehow being "attacked" and blamed unions. In arguing that the newly drafted REO wouldn't stand up to legal scrutiny, the group's own work seemed to be less than convincing.

Union carpenters were very active in pushing for passage of the revised REO, participating in rallies, attending hearings and lining up support from Council members. Supporters also got a boost from Susan Mailman, the president of Coghlin Electrical Contractors, who wrote a convincing opinion piece in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette detailing why opposition to the REO was built on false assumptions.
 





National talk host digs into Stamford Posted by on

National television talk show host Cenk Uygur this week hosted NERCC Representative Tim Sullivan on his show "The Young Turks" to talk about events at Stamford's Harbor Point development. The two talked about how the project is undermining area standards for carpenters' wages and benefits and how instead of local citizens voting on the project, votes were cast by a single lawyer representing a handful of corporations. That's right, corporations voting, not citizens.

 





Union carpenters, pension $ put to work in Providence Posted by on

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras were among those on hand today for a ceremonial groundbreaking for The Highlands on the East Side in Pro. The project is a renovation of senior housing that will become an assisted living facility. The project is being financed by the New England Carpenters Pension Fund and led by union general contractor CWC. It will provide an eventual monetary return to the Fund while providing immediate employment opportunities to union carpenters, economic activity for Providence and badly needed housing for an aging population.

The building is owned by Halkeen Management if Norwood, Massachusetts and will eventually provide 64 unites of housing, including Alzheimer's and Dementia apartments in a variety of layouts.

The Carpenters Pension Fund is investing in the project as part of their diversified investment portfolio.

The groundbreaking was covered briefly by Providence Channel 10.

 





Rego uncovers potential mess at FRHA Posted by on

Local 1305 member Dan Rego, who is a NERCC Organizer and Fall River City Councilor, is shaking things up in the Southeastern Massachusetts city. A few weeks ago, he raised concerns over issues with work being done by the Fall River Housing Authority. Since then, the sparks have started flying.

Rego spoke at a Housing Authority meeting and reported on conversations he had with workers on several FRHA projects in the city, some of which were receiving federal funding. Several workers had reported being misclassified as independent contractors, not being paid the legally mandated prevailing wage or not being paid at all. Rego told the Board that he had referred all of the allegations and evidence to proper state authorities.

 The Housing Authority went into immediate executive session, during which they appointed their own independent investigator. The story quickly hit the Fall River Herald News. The paper then followed up with a vicious attack on Rego, questioning not only his motives, but actions by Rego and the union in the past to protect industry standards. This in a city where legal violations on public construction projects are not unheard of.

This week, Rego spoke out in his own defense in the paper, reminding readers that his knowledge of and experience in the construction industry are a benefit to the city and its residents.

Please take a moment to read Rego's "Letter to the Editor" and consider weighing in with a respectful comment on the Herald News site.