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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





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."





CTA signs union agreement Posted by on

CTA Construction signed a collective bargaining agreement with the New England Regional Council of Carpenters on July 2nd. The contract represents a culmination of a long campaign by the Council and extensive discussions over the past few years between the two organizations.

CTA was founded in 2000 by Lyle Coghlin and Pat Tompkins. Over the past fourteen years, the company has emerged as one of the larger public construction contractors in Massachusetts, with an annual volume of $138 million in 2013. CTA was listed as the 12th largest general contractor in the 2012 Boston Business Journal's Book of Lists and is currently ranked as the 376th biggest firm in ENR's national survey.

"We are pleased that CTA is now a union contractor," commented Mark Erlich, NERCC's Executive Secretary-Treasurer. "We believe that access to a higher caliber of subcontractors and skilled carpenters will allow the company to grow even further."
 





Members lend skills and time to help build 'Techstyle Haus' for global energy-efficiency competition Posted by on

Members from Carpenters Local 94 recently volunteered to help students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Brown University prepare for the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe. The international competition, showcasing the latest in energy-efficient design and construction, will take place this year in Versailles, France.Members helped the team of students construct their entry, named Techstyle Haus, a one-of-a-kind passive home design with an enclosure made entirely of textiles.

“It’s a self-sustained passive solar home for competition and structure will assembled and dismantled multiple times, so they have to learn how to combine steps,” notes Local 94 member Ted Lafond. “Our members were here trying to help them reason through and understand the assembly process.”

The international Solar Decathlon competition challenges students to build energy-efficient and innovative solar-powered homes. Students from the two schools teamed up with a group from the University of Applied Scinces Erfut in Germany to design the 800-square foot house, which is made of a Teflon-coated woven fiberglass, commonly used in sports domes. NERCC signatory contractor Shawmut Design and Construction is a sponsor of the project.

“In the field, when we’re going to put up walls we lay everything out, snap lines and get everything set. Everything is laser sharp, plumb sharp,” notes Local 94 member Frank Taraborelli. “The students installed the first panel down and said ‘well this looks like the way it goes’ and anchored it, they soon ran into problems. We stepped in and taught them how to lay it out.”

“We didn’t really have a strong idea of the right way to put the core together to make sure it was plumb and square,” notes RISD graduate student and TechStyle Haus project manager Sina Almassi. “We were just kind of in over our heads. They got us squared up. Having them help us is really going to make a big difference.”

The team of volunteers from Local 94 was instrumental in helping the students lay out and install the interior of the structure, which includes a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and loft. It was quite fun working with these students,” said Taraborelli. “They really learned something here.”

Hats off to the team of volunteers from Local 94: Ted Lafond, Frank Taraborelli, Kevin Hart, Ryan Del Toro, Gary Roy and Carl Noelte.





A project to be proud of Posted by on

Union carpenters are playing a part in healing communities in Connecticut. Members of Local 43 are working with union contractors C & R Concrete and Giordano Construction on a playground in Hartford, which kicked off this weekend. It is being done in conjunction with the Sandy Ground Project, which will build 26 playgrounds, one for each of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

The playground is being built in memory of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene at Elizabeth Park. Ana's parents grew up and started their family in the area. The New Haven Register published a nice piece on the effort.

Work is expected to be completed in time for an April 4 groundbreaking, which was Ana's birthday.





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.





Allegheny showcases concrete finishing system Posted by on

Union signatory contractor Allegheny Contract Flooring has produced a video promoting its new concrete finishing system. The “Supercap” system allows for time and cost savings for work on new or existing concrete slabs. The system also takes advantage of Greenguard certified, low alkali technology to contribute toward LEED status.

Members of Floorcoverers Local 2168 are working with Allegheny and the Supercap system to improve quality and sustainability while shortening construction schedules and saving projects money.

Click here or on the image, above, to watch the video on Alleheny's website. 





Signatory contractor expands presence Posted by on

Best of luck to Manafort Brothers and the union carpenters employed on their projects as the company expands their presence with a Worcester office. Click here to read more. 





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.

 





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."
 





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.
 





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.

 

 





Old Colony built in 1 1/2 minutes...sort of Posted by on

The New England Carpenters Labor-Management Program is proud to provide an interesting look at the work of union contractors and carpenters at the Old Colony Housing Project in South Boston. The time lapse video, synchronized to music was shot over the course of a year, during the project's first phase. Suffolk Construction was the Construction Manager.

Union carpenters employed by Suffolk Construction and numerous subcontractors were proud to recently complete Phase One of the redevelopment of housing at Old Colony in South Boston. The project involved demolition of old buildings and construction of 116 energy efficient affordable apartment units as well as a 10,000 square-foot community center and other improvements and amenities. As the largest property managed by the Boston Housing Authority, demolition and construction was completed on a 15 acre occupied site containing 850 housing units. The project changes the face of a community and the lives of many who will live there.

Video of the three buildings in this piece was gathered over the course of a year, from December 2010 through December 2011 during almost weekly visits. Videographer Ellen Webber of the New England Carpenters Labor Management Program produced the piece.

See more pictures of this project in our online portfolio
 





The Union connection in Haiti Posted by on

For over a year, union carpenters and other trades workers in New England have been lending their time and valuable skills to assist in the construction of a hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. After the devastating earthquake, the hospital is a source of hope in many ways. NERCC's Mark Erlich recently visited Haiti and wrote a piece for CommonWealth magazine about this amazing project.

Click here to see pictures taken by Mark Erlich during his trip.





Boston.com features union project Posted by on

Work by the members of Carpenters Local 275 and Turner Construction at the soon-to-be-open Wellesley High School was featured at the top center of Boston.com today. The online arm of the Boston Globe posted close to 20 large photos detailing various aspects of the project.

You can view the images here.





NERCC, Richey finally join forces Posted by on

After more than fifteen years of conversations in offices and run-ins on jobsites, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and Mark Richey Woodworking have come to terms on an agreement for the company to become union and its employees to join Shop and Mill Cabinet Local 51.

Richey operates a 130,000 square foot fabrication shop in Newburyport, Massachusetts where they produce architectural millwork. The company now plans to aggressively market themselves to union general contractors, some of whom have turned down Richey in the past in favor of union produced millwork.

"This is a major accomplishment for both the Carpenters union and Mark Richey," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of NERCC. "Though we??ve always advocated for union shops, we recognized that Richey produced high quality work. We now look forward to helping them expand as a union shop in markets throughout New England."





Suffolk growing again Posted by on

While some construction companies struggle to keep the doors open, Suffolk Construction continues to take advantage of opportunities to grow. Yesterday they announced the purchase of Roel Construction, a San Francisco-based general contractor that boasted $300 million in business last year, according to the Boston Herald.

Suffolk has continually grown its book of business locally and nationally. It is the largest general contractor in Massachusetts as ranked by the Boston Business Journal according to dollar volume of contracts. ENR ranks Suffolk as the 31st largest contractor in the United States, with $1.7 billion in revenue. They profiled owner John Fish in the magazine a year ago.

Roel is not the first company Suffolk has bought during the current recession. A year and a half ago it purchased Boston-based William A. Berry and Son, boosting its presence in the health care segment of the industry. It also purchased Dietze Construction Group, a Washington, D.C. area contractor last year, which helped Suffolk increase its work in the mid-Atlantic region.

Suffolk Construction has a regional agreement to hire union carpenters and union carpentry subcontractors for all of its projects in New England. It signed that agreement in 1997, after having signed a similar agreement for its Massachusetts work in 1991.

Suffolk was also the general contractor for the Carpenters Center, the headquarters for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which was completed in February of 2010.





Walmart to look at NERCC contractors Posted by on

Eight senior representatives managing renovation and construction of Walmart and Sam's Club stores came to the Carpenters Center last week to talk to over fifty union contractors about future building projects in New England. The retail giant reviewed their internal contractor prequalification process and talked in general terms about upcoming projects in a two-hour meeting. The developing relationship is the result of coordination between the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the New Jersey State Council of Carpenters, which has had significant success having Walmart stores build union there.

"Walmart is a huge company that has taken some hits about how they do business," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of NERCC. "As a result, they appear to be focused on eliminating future problems including those that might occur during construction. They have a comprehensive prequalification process for general contractors and they've brought in serious people from the industry and regulatory agencies to help them become compliant with the law."

The company plans to build more than 150 new stores in the next year and doesn't want any store to go more than 5-7 years without being renovated.

For NERCC, the meeting highlighted the business development role the union plays for contractors: "Some union contractors only see us as a supplier of labor, affordable benefits and craft training," Erlich said. "We also view the relationship as a partnership in which we can help them generate business and, therefore, jobs for our members."






Union contractor recognized by ENR Posted by on

Congratulations to Component Assembly Systems, a union drywall contractor with offices in Medford, Massachusetts and five other states, which was recently written up for ENRs website by blogger Tricia Attalah. ENR is one of the leading national print and online news sources for the construction industry.

The article, "How a Drywall Contractor Became a Powerhouse via Smart Information Management " highlights Component's incredible growth as a result of its use of specialized computer software and a culture where input and participation is sought from all employees.

According to her ENR blog, Transitions, "Tricia Atallah is Principal of VantagePoint Strategy Group, a management advisory firm, and author of Building a Successful Construction Company. [Her] blog is dedicated to decision-makers who have a stake in the business and/or process of construction."