A new study detailed in a
New York Times article last week suggests that union density in an area may increase economic mobility, helping children move up the economic ladder. The study, a combined effort from Harvard, Wellesley, and the Center for American Progress, shows that children born to low-income families typically progress to higher incomes in areas where union membership is higher. A 10 percentage point increase in union density correlated with a 3-4.5% increase in the incomes of all children.
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."
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.
The New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the New England Carpenters Benefits Funds are hosting a complimentary seminar “Planning for Retirement” on November 15, 2014. The seminar will be held at the New England Carpenters Training Center located at 13 Holman Road in Millbury, MA, from 8:30-12:00 pm.
Registration will begin on October 14th.
As of October 14th members can register online at CarpentersFund.org or by contacting the Seminar Registration Line at at 978-253-5100 to reserve a spot.
Seating is limited.
Some of the topics that will be discussed at the seminar include...
Choosing your Pension, Annuity & Health Benefit Options...
Reviewing your eligibility for retirement
Customized Pension Benefit calculations
Understanding which of our Benefit Plan options fit best with your lifestyle
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.
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.
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.
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 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."
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.
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.
Union representatives recently go together with more than 15 carpenters who were employed by J&V Construction to collect checks for back wages. Each of the men was issued a check for between $20,000-24,000.
The union had spoken to the men when they were working at UConn, building the new basketball training center earlier this year. After learning they were owed significant money from their employer, they encouraged and helped them file wage claims with the state.
For the individual carpenters, the checks represent a big win; significant money they had earned, but thought they'd never get. For the union and the rest of the industry, the checks are another reminder that knowing your rights and standing together to protect them is a worthwhile venture. Congratulations to these carpenters and the union representatives who helped them get justice.
The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters has nominated UBC founder Peter J. McGuire to the New Jersey Hall of Fame and is looking for online votes to get him elected. All members are encouraged to support their efforts.
The Council is proposing McGuire in light of his work to: establish an 8-hour day; begin work toward a five-day workweek; found Labor Day as a holiday honoring all American workers; co-found the AFL; promote the first Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States and create "The Carpenter," the first publication devoted to the carpentry trade.
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."
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.
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.
On May 1st, the New England Carpenters Training Center hosted a graduation ceremony for the 2013 New England Carpenters Training Fund Apprentice Graduates. 129 members, representing 20 locals, completed their training in the apprenticeship program in 2013. Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters was the Keynote speaker.
Four members were specially recognized with awards given out at the ceremony. Local 107 member Corey Wagner, Local 94 member Alex Palmisciano and Local 56 member Thomas Stone each received the Golden Hammer Award. This award is given out each year to one member from each of the trades represented in that year’s graduating class. It is awarded to the graduate demonstrating outstanding craftsmanship and dedication to the profession.
Local 33 member Emerson Ocampo received the Zachary Constant Award, recognizing the graduating apprentice who displays an all-around commitment to the craft, the union and the community.
First-year apprentices at the Carpenters Center built lemonade stands this week in preparation for a visit from Lemonade Day Boston volunteers next week. Lemonade Day is a national event designed to empower young entrepreneurs. The New England Regional Council of Carpenters will play an important role in Lemonade Day Boston by hosting a Build-a-Stand workshop at the Carpenters Center. Young volunteers will get assistance from union carpenters in designing and building their lemonade stands for the May 3 event.
The event is scheduled to take place on April 23. Among the atendees for the Build-a-Stand workshop will be Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
The Carpenters Center is the headquarters of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the New England Carpenters Apprenticship and Training Fund. In addition to the administrative staff fo the reigonal governing body of the United Brotherohood of Carpenters and a handful of affiliated local unions, it includes extensive classroom, meeting and shop training space. It also houses the union's vision center and a private primary care health practice specially tailored for union members, called Carpenters Care.
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."
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.
The Building Pathways program, which has earned praise for its work in Boston to publicize apprenticeship opportunities in the building trades within minority communities has been deployed in New Hampshire. The goal in the Granite State is to seek out women who are interested in careers in building trades to participate in a five week pre-apprenticeship program in May and June. Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Liz Skidmore, who has been active in both local and national "Sisters in the Brotherhood" programs, is helping to coordinate activity.
Two information sessions have already been held and two more are scheduled for March 17 and 24. Yesterday, Governor Maggie Hassan announced plans to visit the March 24 session as a show of support.
Those interested MUST attend an entire information session. Sessions are being held at Plumbers Local 131, 161 Londonderry Turnpike in Hookset from 6-7:30. Late arrivals will not be allowed entrance. No RSVP is required. For more information, contact Liz Skidmore or Joe Gallagher at 603-948-8161 or email@example.com.
A short ad has been produced by the program and is being run on local cable access channels in Manchester, Concord and Nashua.The group has also set up a Facebook page.
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.
A dozen carpenters in New Hampshire joined a rally of more than 100 to support United States Postal workers in Concord, New Hampshire this week. The event was held to protest the visit of California Congressman Darrell Issa, who was in town for a Republican fundraiser. Issa has proposed ending Saturday mail delivery and outsourcing USPS work and jobs. His motives are highly suspect, since the USPS has operated at a budget surplus recently.
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.
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."
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.
East Boston--973 Saratoga Street
East Boston--18 Meridian St
Hyde Park--214 Neponset Valley Parkway
Jamaica Plain 668 Centre Street
South Boston--Ironworkers Local 7
West Roxbury--46 Rockland St, West Roxbury
Fields Corner--1157 Dorchester Ave
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
CARPENTERS UNION AND HOSPITALITY WORKERS UNION ANNOUNCE JOINT ENDORSEMENT OF BOSTON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
Endorsement Marks Historic Coalition Between Two Organizations
September 9th, 2013 – Boston, MA - The New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC) and Boston’s Local 26 (UNITE HERE) are pleased to announce their joint endorsement of several Boston City Council candidates. The endorsement is a product of the two organizations, representing over 26,000 workers, jointly interviewing City Council candidates over a series of days.
“This is more than just an endorsement of candidates for Boston City Council – this is two organizations that represent the diversity of Boston ensuring that working families will have a voice at City Hall. These are the leaders who have proven they can build strong communities,” said Brian Lang, President of Local 26 and resident of Jamaica Plain.
"We came together to consider the candidates as two unions with progressive and independent traditions. Our joint endorsements matter because, between us, we represent the full range of working families in the city," said Mark Erlich, President of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and resident of Jamaica Plain.
The two organizations are proud to support incumbent Councilor Steven Murphy (At-Large), incumbent Councilor Ayanna Pressley (At-Large), Michelle Wu (At-Large), Michael Flaherty (At-Large), Joshua Zakim (District 8) and Timothy McCarthy (District 5).
The NERCC represents over 20,000 carpenters, pile drivers, shop & millmen, and floorcoverers working in the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. NERCC is part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, one of North America’s largest building-trades unions, with nearly a half-million members in the construction and wood-products industries.
UNITE HERE Local 26 represents over 6,500 workers in the City of Boston including most of the major Boston hotels, food service workers on college campuses, convention centers, Fenway Park and Logan Airport. Boston's Local 26 is one of the most politically powerful and diverse unions in the City of Boston.
For more information contact Harry Grill, Political Director, Boston’s Local 26 at (617) 838-4201 or Stephen Joyce, Political Director, New England Regional Council of Carpenters at (617) 438-8011.
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.
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.
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.
Brother Richie Trahan checked in to report on the Holiday Party held at the Carpenters Center for NERCC's Boston Retirees Club last month. Members from the four Boston locals were invited to attend and several dozen did. A group of retired members from Carpenters Local Unions 33, 40, 67 and 218 began meeting last fall to develop a club for members who had hung up the tools, but not their desire to stay connected to each other and the union.
The group is meeting regularly on the 2nd Monday of the month at the Carpenters Center and hopes to schedule social, educational and union-building activities. The time for the meeting has not been made permanent. For more information or scheduling, contact Richie Trahan at 781-848-9597.
John Leavitt, the Business Agent for Local 1996 in Portland hit the airwaves this week to promote the union and help a disk jockey fill time as he stays on the air for four consecutive days. The Mark-a-thon is an annual event held by WCYY's Mark Curdo to raise money for the Center for Grieving Children. CYY is one of the radio stations on which NERCC and the New England Carpenters Labor Management Program place ads to promote the union and industry standards. They also carry radio broadcasts of New England Patriots games, on which the union advertises. Leavitt was on air with Mark on Tuesday afternoon at 3pm.
Yesterday was a good day for union carpenters across New England. Amazingly, all of the Council’s endorsed candidates won election. Obama swept the six states, including winning swing-state New Hampshire by a larger-than-expected margin. In the critical races -- Warren in Massachusetts, Murphy in Connecticut, Hassan/Kuster/Shea-Porter in New Hampshire, King in Maine, Cicilline in Rhode Island – our picks were all winners!!
There is no doubt in my mind that some of the credit for these outcomes belongs to all of you and our members. We worked as hard as we ever have in an election season. We used all the tools available to us – new and old techniques – to educate and mobilize our members. And they responded. Door knocking, phone banks, rallies, visibilities, robo-dials, tele-Town Halls. We had a good story to tell…and we told it well and often.
But it’s important to keep a clear-eyed perspective on where we stand the morning after Election Day 2012. In many ways, we “held serve”. We helped fend off the right wing Republican assault on the middle class. There should be a clear message to the nation’s anti-union forces that their philosophy is not welcome, that the voters do not buy an agenda that favors the wealthy over working families. Yet we still have a divided Congress; we still have a Republican Party that attacks unions. We have some new articulate champions but we also have some old foes. Paul Ryan is still chair of the House Budget Committee and there are no signs yet that the House leadership is prepared to move forward in terms of solving our country’s problems as opposed to scoring political points.
So, as much as all of us deserve to take a deep breath and feel a justified sense of pride in our efforts, we will need to remain vigilant. The economy will not fix itself; it will require more federal and state action to invest in jobs and people. And it will require our continued involvement. Our members need to work; that’s why we endorsed the candidates who understood that the best social program is a job.
Thank you all for your efforts these past weeks and months. It was worth it. Congratulations.
New England Regional Council of Carpenters
More than 50 members, representing ten local union affiliates of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, gathered in Salem and Pelham, New Hampshire Saturday to knock on some doors. Members canvassed in support of President Barack Obama, Gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan and Annie Kuster, Second District candidate for United States House of Representatives. They visited with both union carpenters and members of the general public for several hours.
More than 75 carpenter stewards in Connecticut from Locals 24, 43 and 210 gathered last night to talk about upcoming elections in the state that could have a significant impact both locally and nationally. A United States Senate race between Congressman Chris Murphy and second-time candidate Linda McMahon of the WWE wrestling company is one of a handful of races in the country that could tilt the balance of power in the Senate. Members are also active in other races in the state.
After discussing issues of importance to union carpenters, the conversation turned to getting as many members active as possible. Stewards returned to jobsites today armed with information and schedules. The information is to educate fellow carpenters about the issues and the candidates, the schedules were for events at which members will reach out to even more members. Between now and Election Day on November 6, members will be participating in phone banks to contact registered members and talk to them about the importance of the election to their families, our union, the economy and the construction industry.
Members interested in participating in scheduled activity should contact their Local Union hall for dates and times.
In new report card, Republican Scott Brown fails to support new jobs and Massachusetts’ middle-class
Today, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters issued a report card on Senator Scott Brown’s failing efforts to support job-creating programs and middle-class families across the Commonwealth. Senator Brown received an F on today’s report card for opposing numerous jobs bills that would have supported thousands of good-paying jobs in Massachusetts, opposing the extension of essential unemployment benefits, and failing to fight for fair wages for working men and women.
"Try as he may, Scott Brown cannot run away from his votes along national Republican Party lines,” said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Council of Carpenters. “Whether it's unemployment benefits, jobs bills, or standing up for fair wages, Scott Brown is not on the side of working families right here in Massachusetts. The attempts to re-make his image cannot mask his record. He sides with huge corporations and Wall Street instead of the thousands of Massachusetts families still looking for jobs.”
Today, the New England Carpenters gave Senator Brown an “F” for failing to stand up for working families. The grade was based on the following key votes:
American Jobs Act
-Would have cut payroll taxes for 140,000 MA firms
-Supported 11,100 MA jobs
[Roll Call Vote 160, 10/11/11]
Rebuild American Jobs Act
-Would invest $850 million in MA infrastructure including roads, bridges highway
-Would not add to the deficit.
[Roll Call Vote 195, 11/3/11]
Extending Unemployment Benefits
-8 votes to extended unemployment benefits to tens of thousands of MA residents who were out of work
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.
The New England Regional Council of Carpenters and other industry groups are calling on the Massachusetts legislature to make it a felony for employers to fail to purchase workers compensation insurance for their employees. Senate Bill 915, sponsored by Senator Katherine Clark (D-Melrose) and Majority Whip Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) also has the backing of Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Operating without workers' compesnation insurance is currently a misdemeanor, punishable by upt oa year in prison or a find of up to $1,500. The new law would make the felongy punishapble by up to five years in state prison, two-and-a-half years in jail or a fine of up to $10,000.
NERCC Political Director Steve Joyce said that although union carpenters are always covered by workers' compensation insurance, they are still hurt by those who cheat.
"In an industry where work most often goes to whoever submits the lowest price, any contractor who does not purchase workers' compensation coverage has a competitive advantage right from the start over contractors who follow the law and have coverage," he said. "That negatively impacts any carpenter that works for a legitmate contractor. We're not looking to hurt all employers, we value the role they play in creating jobs. We just want everyone to comply with the law when they do it."
Even the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), a group that lobbies for businesses, support the bill. In a story by the State House News Service, John Regan, AIM's Executive Vice President described the current situation as unfair to too many.
"Their faliure to have that insurance in place means that if workers working for them get injured, the rest of the employer commnity pays the bill" and that making failure to have coverage a felony "reflects the seriousness of the issue, and conveys how important it is that coverage be in place."
According to the SHNS story, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents has reported more than 1,000 cses costing the worekrs compensation fund $26 million in the last five years becuase their employer didn't have worers' compensation coverage. In recent years the department has routinely issued Stop Work Orders against more than 3,000 employer found to be operating without workers' compensation coverage.
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.
While Republicans Governors and legislatures in the United States mounted a withering attack on public sector workers in 2011, rates of unionization among workers in the country remained steady, with some potentially positive signs for the future.
John Schmitt and Jannelle Jones from the Center for Economic Policy and Research broke down the numbers (reporduced in a post on truth-out.org over the weekend). In the public sector, the number of union members declined slightly in 2011, but union density went up. In the private sector, which has seen a greater decline in union members and union density over the years, the number of union members went up with union density holding steady.
The numbers indicate that even though there are fewer union jobs in the public sector, union jobs are being cut at a lower rate than nonunion positions. The increase in the number of union jobs in the private sector is also a positive indicator that anti-union efforts were not as successful in 2011.
Time will tell if the numbers indicate a reaction to attacks on union rights, which exploded on the public scene in Wisconsin and other states early in 2011 or a manifestation of the same frustration with economic inequality that spurred the "Occupy" movements later in the year. But they are good news for American workers.
A prominent article in the Boston Globe today revealed that state investigators are looking into the use and treatment of out-of-state shelter workers in the renovation of rooms at the Boston Copley Marriott. Union carpenters, painters and other union members have been demonstrating twice a week for months at the site against Baystate Interiors, Inc. of Woburn for undermining area standard for carpenters' wages and benefits.
Baystate is renovating several floors of rooms at the pricey downtown hotel owned by Host Hotels and using a California-based company named Installations Plus. Installations is using workers from a missionary shelter in Philadelphia to do work at the Marriott and allegedly violating wage and hour laws to do it.
The workers come from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation shelter in Philadelphia run by Victory Outreach International, an evangelical group based in the San Diego area.
“Our concern is that Host Hotels is trying to take advantage of the recession by bringing in out-of-state laborers to do work that has traditionally been done by local union tradespeople,’’ said Mark Erlich, president of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.
The investigation is not the first trouble enforcement authorities have found on the site. The subcontractors working on the project--including Installations Plus--have been issued "Stop Work Orders" and paid fines for not having proper workers' compensation insurance.
Click here to view a NERCC-produced video about the demonstrations at the Boston Copley Marriott.
Multiple enforcement agencies in Massachusetts today announced that five subcontractors employed by Pulte on sites in Eastern Massachusetts have been ordered to pay workers more than $400,000 in owed wages and make payments totaling $141,000 to cover unpaid taxes.
The order is the result of investigations that began after workers complained to Representatives of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters that they had been unpaid for extended periods of time. Workers went on strike at several Pulte locations and filed complaints with the state.
"The investigation fined five separate subcontractors, but the real culprit is Pulte Homes, a multi-billion dollar national homebuilder," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. "Those subs are interchangeable and were just doing Pulte's bidding. Cheating is Pulte's business model and, unfortunately, that approach is far too common in the residential construction industry."
Subcontractors that were part of the order include:
--AM Construction Services and its President, Adimar Demoura, age 32 of Framingham, allegedly failed to pay four workers a total of $15,331.50 for framing work done on private residential projects in Braintree and Plymouth. They were also fined $22,500 in penalties.
--Five Stars Construction and its President, Alexandre Miranda, age 40 of Trumbull, Connecticut, allegedly failed to pay two workers a total of $30,700 for framing work done on a private condominium project in Natick. They were also fined $30,000 in penalties.
--Nunes Brothers Construction and its President, Tiago Aguiar M. Nunes, age 28 of Brooklyn, New York, allegedly failed to pay 23 workers a total of $99,086.75 for framing work done on private condominium and single-family homes projects in Braintree, Plymouth, Natick, and Northbridge. They were also fined $112,500 in penalties.
--Seven Seas Group and its President, Jackson Croscup, age 55 of Fall River, allegedly failed to pay five workers a total of $10,333 for framing work done on a private condominium project in Natick. They were also fined $20,075 in penalties.
--Two Brothers Construction and its President, Wellington DeLima Borges, age 41 of East Natick, allegedly failed to pay six workers a total of $34,751.50 for framing work done on a private home development project in Plymouth. They were also fined $34,500 in penalties.
Investigating the complaints were Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office (AGO), the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD), and the Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification (JTF). The JTF was established by Governor Deval Patrick through Executive Order #499 in March 2008 to coordinate multiple state agencies’ efforts to stamp out fraudulent employment activities by enforcing the state’s labor, licensing, and tax laws.
“All workers in the Commonwealth deserve to be paid for the wages they have earned, including their overtime,” said Attorney General Coakley. “We will continue to work together and take appropriate action to stop these unlawful business practices, level the playing field for companies and protect workers.”
“The Commonwealth is committed to insuring that all businesses carry both workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance coverage,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein. “We will not tolerate employers or developers who proceed without this coverage, which puts employees at risk and employers who play by the rules at a competitive disadvantage. The Joint Task Force will continue to take all necessary action to protect legitimate employers, employees and the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.”
Fifty millworkers who are members of UBC Local 8093 working for Indiana Limestone Company have been on strike through the holidays after unanimously rejecting a concessionary contract. Difficult economic times have forced many Americans and union members to watch wages and working conditions slip backwards. And though they have not blindly agreed to every concession demanded of employers, union members and Americans have been flexible and realistic in working with employers to strike a balance between business viability and protecting a decent standard of living.
What's at play in Indiana, though, may have less to do with recent economic conditions than it does with the move my many American businesses from family run and privately owned to investor owned or publicly traded.
Resilience is the new player in Indiana’s limestone industry. Like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, Resilience specializes in “flipping” mid-range “stressed” companies like Indiana Limestone. The private equity firm buys them up, strips them down, lowers their labor costs, and sells them to investors.
It’s the same process that has occurred throughout the country for the past 30 years, turning family-owned businesses into “lean and mean” concerns, in the process destroying good union jobs and shrinking the tax base in communities that are struggling to survive.
While company officials make the usual statements about being fair-minded corporate citizens, the fact is that there had been only one other brief strike in Indiana Limestone’s long history, while in two years Resilience had made it clear it was only about lowering costs in order to resell.
According to the article, among the concessions sought by Resilience are elimination of "just cause" standards for discipline and an end to safety meetings, though the work done can be extremely dangerous.
Varga's piece goes on to detail the context in which the strike is taking place. The state has been at the forefront of battles over rescinding collective bargaining rights and enacting so-called "right to work" laws. It has also seen some pushback from workers--both union and nonunion--as well as younger citizens who have become involved in the "occupy" movement.
New understandings and alliances have been forming between the workers and young people eager to get involved and make a lasting difference in the future.
There's no happy ending to the story, at least yet. And there may not be. But one can't help feeling there could be better results in the future if the conversations between workers and their neighbors continue, creating a better understanding of each other and the common problems they face.
The Nashua Telegraph yesterday published a piece by Mark Mackenzie, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO calling for a New Year's resolution to help workers in 2012. The piece was a good summary of what workers want and deserve, but aren't gettingin today's America. Click through to read the piece and consider sharing it with others.
??Our study underscores the role of unions as an equalizing force in the labor market,?? said study author Bruce Western, a professor of sociology at Harvard University. ??Most researchers studying wage inequality have focused on the effects of educational stratification??pay differences based on level of education??and have generally under-emphasized the impact of unions.??
From 1973 to 2007, wage inequality in the private sector increased by more than 40 percent among men, and by about 50 percent among women. In their study, Western and co-author Jake Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington, examine the effects of union decline on both between-group inequality and within-group inequality. Between-group compares people from different demographics and industries, while within-group looks at people from the same demographics and industries.
Focusing on full-time, private sector workers, Western and Rosenfeld find that deunionization??the decline in the percentage of the labor force that is unionized??and educational stratification each explain about 33 percent of the rise in within-group wage inequality among men. Among women, deunionization explains about 20 percent of the increase in wage inequality, whereas education explains more than 40 percent.
Though conservative efforts to limit or eliminate the activity of unions is underway in several states this year, Republicans in Congress are running into opposition to some of their labor-related efforts from within their own party.
Twice in the last week a significant block of Republicans broke party ranks to support union positions on two significant votes. The first was an amendment to a spending bill that would have prohibited Davis Bacon prevailing wage requirements for any federal projects this year. Forty-eight Republicans in the House of Representatives joined every voting Democrat in opposing the measure, which was soundly defeated 189-233.
In a clear message to House Speaker John Boehner that he had over-reached, 60 Republican members of the House of Representatives also broke ranks last week to vote with Democrats on a bill amendment regarding funding for the National Labor Relations Board. The amendment would have de-funded the agency, which governs elections for union representation and rules on complaints of unfair labor practices by workers or management. Conservatives have complained that appointments to the Board by President Barack Obama have pushed the body to make more worker-friendly decisions.
The Nation makes it frighteningly clear that as goes Wisconsin and some other states this year, so could go the labor movement.
It's taken as gospel in conservative circles--and sometimes the public at-large--that public employees make too much money. The common refrain is that "they should be treated more like workers in the private sector." A study by the Economic Policy Institute says that for many public workers, that would mean getting paid more. The study comparing compensation for public employees vs private sector workers in comparable jobs nation-wide is supplemented by state-by-state looks at the facts in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, California and Indiana.
Finally, are public employee pensions bankrupting government and in dire need of reform or elimination? Or have they simply been suffering a temporary setback due to the same stock market troubles that have equally damaged private 401(k)s? The Center for Economic and Policy Research concludes that pension funds may recover with the market and shouldn't' be the source of great panic. You can read their study here.
Here in New England, working people are rallying to support Wisconsin workers. On Tuesday rallies will be held at the State Houses in Massachusetts Rhode Island and Vermont.
Massachusetts Tuesday at 4 pm at the State House in Boston.
Rhode Island Tuesday at 4:30 pm at the State House in Providence.
Vermont Tuesday at noon at the State House in Montpelier.
Rallies are being discussed and planned in other New England states. Details will be sent via the Council Update and posted to NERCCBlog.com as they become available.
Emily Rooney's Greater Boston recently ran a piece on the public perception of unions, followed by a three-person discussion. The conversation quickly turned into a bash session of public employee unions who's only role apparently should be making any and all concessions requested by management. Rooney leads the assault with one negative generalization after another.
The question of why public perception has turned against unions is a good one. Discussions about how unions--including individual union workers--can convince their friends and neighbors of the benefits of unions and collective bargaining are important and should take place. While this piece could have been a thoughtful jumping off point, it largely fails.
Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer was recently asked by the editors of Dissent magazine to write a piece summarizing his experience and thoughts about his career in the UBC and the labor movement. It is available here and follows him from an apprentice in Oregon in 1975 through his work as head of a regional union during hard times for construction workers and unions in America.
Dissent is a quarterly magazine featuring a liberal perspective on politics and culture that has been published since 1954.
The construction industry is facing one of its toughest period in a long time. But as union carpenters, we still have reason to be proud. Proud of our skills, our union and the history of working people in which we all play a part.
Though now as often viewed as the milestone for the end of the summer, Labor Day exists to recognize and celebrate the working men and women of the United States who make it what it is. Few have more of a visible impact than the construction workers who build the roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, offices and homes of America.
So congratulations on the very important role you play by giving your skills, your hard work and your dedication. You have earned the respect of our nation.
To learn more about the origins (some disputed) of Labor Day, we invite you to visit the three articles linked below and to share them with others so that they might better understand and appreciate the role that unions have played and still play in our country.