Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Contract Update


The reality of the bleak future facing union labor in New York City unless labor- management cooperation wins out finally hit home with the ironworker’s union agreeing to an unprecedented wage and benefit rollback that is shaking up development in the city.

Reacting to the possible loss of lucrative work at Hudson Yards followed by the Tappan Zee Bridge, members of Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46 voted to cut their compensation and work-rule changes that could slash total project costs by a significant amount. It seems that the iron workers finally realized that the Tappan Zee Bridge could be rebuilt without them, saving the state money, and that Related Cos. is aggressively seeking cost savings at Hudson Yards that may result in their using a combination of union and nonunion workers. Those projects are typical; just part of the potential problems faced by union construction right now, right here in New York City.

Reported by Crain’s New York Business, Michael Locker, a construction industry expert who consults for Local 46, said, “When labor and management really want to put their heads together and solve problems, they can.”

I promise we are putting our heads together and using common sense to solve the problems of mobility and compensation that we face at WC&C. And I can assure that your representatives will succeed in negotiating contracts that will bring more profitable work to our contractor members.

Meanwhile, while our eyes have been on negotiations, our warm winter slipped by hardly noticed at all and spring has begun to feel like early summer. Safety now takes on a new dimension on hot construction projects and it behooves us to ensure our people on the job take proper measures to protect against heat prostration.

OSHA has kicked off a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. The outreach effort builds on last year’s successful summer campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of too much sun and heat. For outdoor workers, ‘water, rest and shade’ are three words that can make the difference between life and death,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said. “If employers take reasonable precautions, and look out for their workers, we can beat the heat.” This is an important issue. Vital as our labor/ management deliberations are, they pale in importance when measured against fatalities in the workplace. Let’s not forget safety on the job.

Executive Director
John DeLollis

Back to Square One

With a paltry 13% of eligible New York City District Council of Carpenter’s (NYCDCC) members voting, the voice of the UBC has been heard, rejecting a five year Collective Bargaining Agreement we began negotiating 18 months ago. Discouraged at the low turnout at the ballot box and not surprised of the outcome, we are back to square one.

Mobilization and compensation appear to be two major issues to overcome. Mobility affords the contractor to employ any NYCDCC member possessing the qualifications and skills for the tasks requested (ie: framing, sheetrocking, ACT Ceilings, millwork, etc.). Regulating mobility severely hampers the contractor’s ability to compete in the ever shrinking market share of union construction.

Compensation always becomes a spirited conversation during negotiations and I’m confident we can find some common ground to agree on. We have reopened negotiations, had a few meetings and are committed to finding common ground on an agreement before June 30th when the one year evergreen extension expires.

On the international front, we have been granted a sixty day extension on the AWCI International Agreement. One meeting was held in Washington on April 20th, 2012 and another is scheduled for June 7th, 2012. We have circulated a survey to our membership requesting feedback of the importance of the two man international agreement is to our association. I would like to thank you in advance for your feedback. Again I am confident we can find a common ground to finalize that agreement.

In closing I would like to thank Lee Zaretsky for his services on the AWCI Board of Directors. His three year term expires this coming fall. WCC Chairman Brian Gordon has gracefully accepted to fill the vacated seat. I look forward to working with Brian on the international level with our AWCI partners. Enjoy your summer.

Mike Weber

(John's note: Since elected leadership of the District Council has not officially informed the membership on the status of our contracts I thought you might enjoy an update from the Association of Wall-Ceiling & Carpentry Industries of New York, written in Off The Wall Spring 2012).

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