Saturday, July 23, 2011

Studies Show That Unions Work

While reliable studies of craft labor productivity in the U.S. are in short supply, a few recent reports that specifically address changing trends in construction over the last decade indicate declines in productive output of skilled trades and rising project costs can be traced to gaps in education and training among non-union workers.

Extensive research conducted by noted organizations in the public and private sectors both attest to this trend. These include one groundbreaking study from the private research firm Independent Research Analysis Inc. (IPA) and another key report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Dept.

Introduced at a 2009 conference of the Construction Users Roundtable, an owners' group, the NIST report shows that construction clearly is facing a serious problem of declining productivity. In fact, the institute cites several academic and industry studies that say the rate of labor productivity growth in U.S. construction is among the lowest, if not the lowest, of all non-farm industries.

One root cause of declining productivity, according to the NIST report, is the failure of a large segment of the industry—that is, non-union construction—to provide skills training to craftspeople. As non-union firms have won a growing share of the market over the past several decades, this trend has accelerated, says the NIST study. This finding by the NIST is consistent with the results of a number of apprenticeship studies from around the country.

The NIST research shows that the union sector has long maintained effective training programs, while non-union firms still struggle to train and retain craft personnel. This means that as project owners award a larger share of work to the non-union sector, fewer workers are getting trained.

If 70% of non-residential work is directed to non-union firms, effective skills training will reach only 30% of the industrial and commercial craft workforce. It's simple math.

Vital Concern

The steep decline in training, at least on the non-union side, is obviously an issue of vital concern to project owners. They will be most affected by the lack of skills training and ultimately will pay for it if this problem is not corrected.

Notwithstanding the recession, which only masks long-term supply problems in the construction labor market, owners have identified craft skills shortages and related productivity and cost problems as construction's single most important area of concern.

The recent NIST study confirms these fears. However, it also reveals that project owners who award work to non-union firms that don't provide adequate craft training are a key driving force in this looming crisis.

So what happens when project owners award work to firms in the union sector that do invest in maintaining effective skills training programs? The most obvious impact, as determined by objective measurable standards, is that they get significantly greater productivity on their jobsites, not to mention better quality and cost control, as demonstrated by the other most recent report on this subject.

IPA's study—presented by Dean P. Findley, the firm's North America regional director, at CURT's 2007 annual conference—also provides a similar conclusion. In reviewing data from nearly 1,200 construction projects in the U.S. and Europe, he noted that craft labor productivity was almost 17% greater on union projects. When union and non-union jobsites were compared, there was “little variation in effective labor cost from region to region,” Findley said.

As the IPA report conclusively shows, while labor costs are often comparable, there is a vast difference in labor productivity between union and non-union craft labor pools. It further indicates that higher labor productivity not only reduces overall project costs but improves schedule and quality.

The United Association invests more than $200 million annually in its apprenticeship and craft journey-worker training programs. It pays off: Among ENR's list of top mechanical contractors, between 80% and 90% of the firms ranked are our signatory contractors.


  1. Kinda in your face ladies - that is Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA), Multi-Billionaire Developers and Public & Private Project Owners as well as the Building Construction Trades Council (BCTC).

    When you want a complex Engineering Project done right the first time; the big boys, the players, rely upon the Unions - all of us together as a collective entity.

    You all know full well that the Non-Union Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) sector cannot man the large Projects sufficiently, that they provide little to no Training, that their Safety records are abhorrent - and that none of them, depsite all the blather and propaganda that BTEA propagated via the 26-Point Subway Smear Campaign; could ever meet the ridiculous Scheduling Criteria that the Investors and Banks that finance them demand.

    Imagine a day when the Non-Union ABC Element were attempting the to contruct a complex Engineering & Building Project such as the new Freedom Tower?

    The Non-Union ABC GC'S & Sub's would take 4-5 times longer to build it, the Quality would be atrocious and they would be killing workers left & right....just like the good old days prior to the advent of the Labor Unions and Federal Agencies like OSHA.

    Face the Facts:

    The ABC and non-union sector do not have the tools, the capital, the equipment, the manpower, the training, the quality level desired, the ability to meet the schedule or the braintrust to manage a complex engineering project.

    The Insurance costs would be exhorbitant and cost prohibitive!

  2. McCarron & the UBCJA International legal counsel skip the fact that the UBC is now raiding tapers, painters, electricians and providing training for non-union workers.

    The USAO & IRO over the first 20-years (1990-2010) conveniently ignore the fact that the UBCJA has spent $200M + nationwide in legal expenses to push fraudulent lawsuits & legal issues in all 52 NLRB regions, the District Courts of 50-States, and the 13 Appeals Courts to negate the NLRA, LMRA & LMRDA along with ERISA, SEC and IRS laws & regulations in furtherance of the International UBCJA's racketeering activities.

    The rank & file have demanded justice for 21 years, 322-days to date; and received nothing less than a furtherance of the racketeering activity at the hands of the Attorneys involved, while they sat in Court in deafening silence and continue to submit their monthly billable hours, while producing nothing of substance in return.

    The UBCJA and their counsel of Record now proffer to the Court a Restructuring Plan which they know to be facially unlawful.

    That it is done as a collusive effort with BTEA, BCTC and Latham & Watkins with the intent of another "test case", with the express intent to defraud the Court & the Rank & File once again, and to involve the current USAO & IRO in their misdeeds; save the language wherein they shall use a built in Escape Clause....but your Honor, it was a "proposed plan"...we didn't know we were violating the law(s) and regulations - belies the Superior Legal Knowledge they claim to possess.

    This fact of its own accord warrants contempt charges against the International and the NYCDCC attorneys.

    The Court should recognize clearly, the manipulative agenda, the lies, the desire to further the fraud and racketeering and the feigning of innocence by the UBC International and/or their claim of Clean Hands in the entire matter and with specific reference to the current LMRDA Trusteeship, which the International clearly imposed to further their illegitimate ends and to continue the fraud and extortion of member Property rights and Hobbs Act Extortion - unabated, and with the USDC-SDNY's blessing and well wishes.

    Justice demands that the UBCJA extended LMRDA Trusteeship be concluded and ended, and that the contract(s) be extended until the District Council Elections are held, the autonomy of the Local Unions & District Council is restored to the rank & file - and, that the Restructuring Plan be rejected in its entirety.

    Moreover, the Court needs to order the UBCJA International & the NYCDCC to forego any & all merger or consolidation plans until the autonomy is restored and the newly elected representatives have successfully executed and implemented a new Contract (CBA); and, with the assistance and oversight of the USAO & IRO - have thoroughly vetted the UBCJA Constitution & Bylaws and International Agreement, the NYCDCC Constitution & Bylaws, all Trust Fund Agreements, all fund repayment plans by delinquent Contractors for conformance to known laws, Appellate & Supreme Court precedent and landmark cases, the NLRA, LMRA, LMRDA, ERISA, EBSA, SEC & IRS laws, rules and regulations.

    The two primary prongs of the Federal Civil RICO Consent Decree cannot be met without this mandatory scrubbing and vetting.

  3. Studies do not show that "Unions" are squeeky clean, do they? We still need to verify all workers sent to job sites are the best we have. We fail to be objective here. Who would we want working on OUR project? I would want the most productive, skilled men and women. I also ask our elected officials to be accountable to the wages they receive.

  4. anon

    When you are certified as a Journeyman Carpenter - that means you possess the ground up skills required to compete.

    College grads do not have their degrees revoked once earned, Same deal for Attorney once they pass the Bar Exam.

    Upgrade classes are fine, but not mandatory. You are obviously too brainwashed to comprehend what exactly the UBCJA Interantional is trying to do here legally.

    Don't worry though dummbass, when the 40% pay scale reduction hits your weekly ney pay - then & only will you get it!

    You are your own worst enemy. Rah, Rah Company schlong wonkers - till the day McCarron rapes your paycheck - and then, it will sink in to your thick skull!!

    Now, go get some ointment for those scab's on your knees. Doug is telling you to convert or die & you are going, Ok I am not a man, I will accept whatever you say, thank you sir may I have another...stupid fuck!


I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.