Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another construction union deal reached

A third pact between unionized construction workers and contractors has been agreed to, but the mason tenders' pact alone won't avert a crippling strike at major project sites.

By Daniel Massey

A third construction union has reached a tentative contract in the closely watched run-up to Thursday's expiration of nearly two dozen deals spanning the industry.

The Mason Tenders District Council reached an agreement with the Contractors Association of Greater New York, according to Louis Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers' Association.

Details of the contract were not immediately available. The mason tenders serve as laborers on construction sites—stocking supplies, mixing mortar and performing general cleanup. A call to the union was not immediately returned.

The deal follows those ratified by steamfitters over the weekend and by painters in the spring. It leaves cement workers, bricklayers, carpenters and operating engineers as unions that have yet to reach new contracts. The carpenters, who are under a federal monitor, are expected to have their current deal extended while a court process plays out.

The operating engineers' deal is expected to be the most difficult. Talks were continuing Wednesday afternoon between contractor associations and Locals 14 and 15 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. Another bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday.

Industry sources say a wide gulf remains between the two sides over contractors' proposals to significantly change work rules. Even if all the other trades reach deals, union construction work could stop across the city beginning Friday, as the operating engineers control the heavy machinery—including cranes—that keep construction sites running.

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