Monday, January 26, 2009

Construction Projects Drying Up Across City

The economic outlook is having a direct impact on construction projects across the city as layoffs continue to make their presence known. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner field the following report.

One constant in New York City is the constantly changing skyline, with construction sites and cranes dotting the horizon. But those sights may soon be fewer and farther between.

"Because of the lack of financing and because of the economic conditions a lot of the buildings that were proposed to be built are not being built," said Stephen Kliegerman, Halstead Property.

Louis Coletti of the Building Trades Employers Association says these casualties of the financial meltdown are causing a tremendous ripple effect throughout the construction industry.

"Many of my contractors have had projects either stopped completely, delayed before they started or stopped in mid stream. When that happens people get laid off and lose their jobs," said Coletti.

Coletti says there are 125,000 members of the building trades, and as we get deeper into 2009, he expects 50 to 60 percent of them to be unemployed.

"There's no demand for the construction services my members provide, if there's no demand we have no jobs to hire people for and until you break that cycle we could be facing depression like numbers in the nyc construction industry," said Coletti.

A major part of the problem -- lending. Banks used to require developers to supply 10 percent of a project's costs, but that number has shot up.

"Developers if they are going to build anything right now are looking to put 50 percent to 60 percent equity into a deal right now and no developer is going to do that," said Kliegerman.

As a result, the city department of buildings saw the number of new construction permits drop by a third, from almost 5,000 in 2007 to less than 3,200 in 2008.

"We're hearing layoffs are happening in architectural firms, in engineering firms, that's a really scary process because what that means is nobody is designing new projects," said Coletti.

And keep in mind, no new projects also means no new units to house the extra one million people the city expects to see over the next decade.

In short, Stephen Kliegerman of Halstead Property warns there may be a severe housing shortage, and the skyrocketing costs that go with supply and demand, if the lending spigot doesn't start flowing again and soon.

"If money were to loosen up, it certainly would eradicate some of what we see as the pent up demand for the future and soften what I believe is going to be quite a dramatic inflationary situation in 2011 and 2012," said Kliegerman.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Judge Remedies Councils Contempt Violation - 50/50 Rule, Now 67/33

In the 2001 contract negotiations the NYC District Council violated the 1994 Consent Decree and "bargained away" the job referral rules giving the contractor what they wanted—The unfettered right to "request" anyone they want from the out-of-work list!

The District Council negotiated this shocking contract change without notifying or seeking the approval of the 15-member negotiating team, the 88-member elected delegate body, the rank-and-file who were expressly opposed to the contractor request and the federal government who has oversight supervision.

The District Council had absolutely no constitutional authority to bargaining away the job referral rules. They have abused their authority, violated their oath of office and more importantly violated the trust of the membership they claim to represent.

Bargaining away the job referral rules has turned the out-of-work list into an absurd paperwork dance, where "non-requested" carpenters languish on a phony out-of-work-list and the 50/50 rule as we had known it has been rendered meaningless.

On February 20, 2007 the District Council was found GUILTY OF CONTEMPT by the United States Court Of Appeals for violating provisions of the Consent Decree when they bargained away the job referral rules with the 2001 contract change.

On January 13, 2009 Federal District Judge Charles S. Haight fashioned a remedy for the contempt charge against the District Council restoring fairness back into the job referral rules.

The Court wrote: “This Court, sitting in equity, will not fashion a remedy that is wholly in favor of contractors, while denying any relief to union carpenters for whose benefit the Job Referral Rules were drafted and included in the Consent Decree.”

I conclude that a fair and proper remedy, having in mind the several interests affected by it, will include these elements:

(1) Abolish the Request System in its present form. This will require that the relevant provisions in the 2006 CBAs be declared void.

(2) Allow a contractor to select particular carpenters for a job up to but not in excess of 67 percent of the total carpenter work force. That percentage is made up of the contractor's 50 percent under the 50/50 Rule, and an additional 17 percent, representing one-third of, and to count against, the Union's 50 percent. The remaining 33 percent of the carpenter work force will be assigned by the Union from the OWL.

(3) Restore the six-month provision contained in Job Referral Rule 5(B), so that a contractor cannot request a carpenter and have that carpenter count against the Union's 50 percent unless that carpenter has been employed by that contractor during the previous six months. But under no circumstances may carpenters chosen under Rule 5(B) count against the 33 percent assigned by the Union directly from the OWL.

This resolution is fair and equitable because it recognizes contractors' economic and competitive concerns by allowing them to select most ofthe carpenter work force on any particular project, while restoring the Out-of-Work List as a meaningful source of employment for carpenters seeking work.

To read judge Haight's full order click here.

Related: History Lesson 101.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Carpenters For Caroline

Daily News Blogs

Caroline Kennedy has landed what I believe is her first labor endorsement in her non-campaign for Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat in the form of a statement released today by Michael J. Forde, executive secretary-treasurer of the city District Council of Carpenters.

Forde first praised Clinton and the "hard work" she and her staff have done to date in addressing the economic crisis, adding: "While New York may be losing a great civil servant, the country will be gaining a true leader when Senator Clinton is eventually confirmed as the next Secretary of State."

"This leaves us with the considerable question of who will serve the people of the State of New York as our next U.S. Senator," Forde continued. "The people of New York expect their Senators to be not only tenacious in their representation of New Yorkers' needs, but also to be players on a national scale. History has shown that to be true, and our current situation demands it. Senator Clinton filled that role. Senator Charles Schumer certainly does now and hopefully will continue to long into the future.

Furthermore, the New York State Constitution is very clear regarding the appointment of U.S. Senators midterm. The appointment is solely and unequivocally the decision of the Governor. Governor Paterson has made clear his intention to wait until Senator Clinton’s appointment before making his decision. His rationale is solid and his authority to do so is unquestioned.

This situation has led to a “non-campaign” campaign for the position. We have read about and heard from a number of candidates, many of whom we respect and hold in high regard. One such candidate who has made her intention known to the governor directly and who we’ve met with is Caroline Kennedy. What we discovered in our meeting was that Caroline is someone who is intelligent, easy to communicate with and grasps our issues."

"Having been chosen by President-Elect Obama for his Vice Presidential selection Committee also shows us how she is perceived by the most important decisionmaker in America. Her academic pursuits, published works and years of advocacy underscore a serious and goal-oriented individual. We have found her to be qualified on the two aspects vital to being a Senator from New York: someone who can advocate for New Yorkers' needs and someone who will be a national player."

The Carpenters' political director, Stephen McInnis, said that while the union has heard from a number of the candidates vying for Clinton's seat, Kennedy was the only one who asked for an in-person meeting.

That meeting occurred about two weeks ago while Kennedy was making the rounds of labor leaders with her consultant, Josh Isay, including teachers union head Randi Weingarten, who has also been mentioned as a potential successor to Clinton; and 32BJ President Mike Fishman.

Asked why the Carpenters, who, like Kennedy, are a client of Isay's firm, KnickerbockerSKD, had waited until now to declare their support of Kennedy - coincidentally on the very day when a new poll shows her public push for Clinton's seat has cost her in the public's eye - McInnis replied:

"We feel like she's been kind of unfairly beaten up. You guys in the media have focused 99 percent of your attention on ripping her apart. She'd be a national player from the get-go, and there's only a couple of people being considered by the governor like that. We thought she was impressive, and we wanted to put out a statement to that fact. It was time we made our feelings known."

McInnis said that Kennedy and Isay asked the Carpenters to be helpful back when the meeting took place, but never formally asked for this statement to be released.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Contractor Associations

In progress, this page will list all current agreements.

Building Contractors Association

451 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 683-8080
Fax: (212) 683-0404

Cement League

49 West 45th Street
New York, NY  10036
9th Floor
Phone:  (212) 575-0950
Fax: (212) 575-4844
[Located between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue]

General Contractors Association

General Contractors Association
60 East 42 Street, Suite 35-10
New York, New York 10165
Tel: (212) 687-3131
Fax: (212) 808-5267

Greater New York Floor Coverers Association

6268 Jericho Turnpike Suite 12A   
Commack, NY 11725 
Phone: (631)486-6600 
Fax: (631)462-1486

Manufacturing Woodworkers Association of Greater New York, Inc.
14 Madison Avenue
Valhalla, NY 10595


The Hoisting and Scaffolding Trade Association, Inc.

27 Horton Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801
Tel: (914) 699-2400
Fax: (914) 699-2609

The Association of Wall-Ceiling & Carpentry Industries

125 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 301
Jericho, New York 11753-1022
Phone: (516) 478-5600
Fax: (516) 478-5601