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August 16, 2002

Election Year 2002: November ballot features Granholm vs. Postuhumus, other important races

Labor Day 2002 celebrations scheduled

Congress gives final OK to Fast Track

Greatest challenge to installing new pollution controls at Monroe Power Plant is the plant itself

Save-a-Life Club invites you to join

Another busy season for road work(ers)

NEWS BRIEFS

 

Election Year 2002: November ballot features Granholm vs. Postuhumus, other important races

A contentious primary among a field of strong candidates race for governor brought forth Jennifer Granholm, who easily won the Democratic nomination on Aug. 6.

Granholm won 48 percent of the vote, easily beating challengers David Bonior and Jim Blanchard. The 43-year-old state attorney general will square off in the Nov. 5 general election against Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, who beat out challenger Joe Schwartz in the primary.

Granholm pledged to be an agent of change in state government, which has been led by Gov. John Engler for the last 12 years. Engler, who is term-limited, has cemented his reputation as an anti-regulation, anti-tax, anti-union leader who has fought tooth and nail to protect the interests of the business community.

"It's an administration that has represented special interests for the past 12 years, and it's time that people's interests are brought back to the table in Michigan," Granholm said Aug. 8 during a Democratic unity breakfast in Detroit.

Posthumus, 52, a former state senator and who has been lieutenant governor since 1999, is expected to campaign on a long record of public service in the state, as well as on Engler's record of tax cutting. "My pledge is that we won't raise taxes - in fact, we will cut taxes," he said, although Michigan is facing a $500 million budget deficit.

It was a bruising campaign for the Democratic candidates, who took off the gloves with a number of nasty television and radio ads. Labor unions, including many among the building trades, divided their allegiance and monetary support among all three candidates. With such a strong field on candidates, the Detroit and Michigan Building and Construction Trades Councils opted to wait until after the primary election before endorsing a candidate.

Exit polling said union households accounted for 44 percent of the Democratic primary vote. The AFL-CIO and the UAW threw a lot of money and support behind Bonior, but polling revealed that Granholm was favored by union voters 42 percent, compared to 36 percent for Bonior and 22 percent for Blanchard.

Acknowledging the split among supporters and the still-considerable clout of Michigan's unions, Granholm said, "I know I cannot do it without my brothers and sisters in organized labor."

The race for governor was the most significant in the state on the primary ballot - but there were numerous other congressional seats, county positions and local offices up for grabs. One of the biggest was for the 15th District Congressional seat, a tempestuous, nationally watched race which was won by John Dingell over Lynn Rivers. Both were Democratic incumbents who were tossed into the same district (Dearborn-Downriver-Ann Arbor) by the re-districting process. Dingell won by a 64-36 percent margin and will most assuredly win the heavily Democratic seat in the November election.

"We have a lot to do on health care and to keep our environment clean while we ensure prosperity for our working families," Dingell said.

In the race to see who will lead the state's largest county, Sheriff Robert Ficano easily beat his challengers Benny Napolean and Ricardo Solomon.

Across the state, there is much importance attached to the November ballot. Besides the governorship, Granholm's victory opens the door for a new state attorney general. Party caucuses by Democrats and Republicans will each choose a candidate to be placed on the ballot. State Sen. Gary Peters is a frontrunner for the Democrats' attorney general nomination, andWayne County Assistant Prosecutor Mike Cox is considered the lead candidate for the GOP's attorney general nomination.

For the Secretary of State position, attorney Butch Hollowell of Detroit is considered the Dem's leading candidate, while former Kent County Clerk Terri Land is in competition with state Sen. Loren Bennett for the Republican Party's nomination.

The November general election promises to be tremendously important. Not only will a new governor be elected in Michigan, Democrats will attempt to take majority control of either the Michigan House (where Republicans hold a 58-52 advantage) House or Senate (the GOP leads, 22-15) for the first time in several years - and winning either of them is considered a long shot.

County commission races are abundant, as are judicial races around the state. There are also numerous local races whose winners could have a direct affect on our lives.

"The Americans," said founding father John Jay, "are the first people whom heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the forms of government under which they should live."

And the next opportunity to do so will come on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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Labor Day 2002 celebrations scheduled

On Monday, Sept. 2, make plans to attend Labor Day celebrations in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Marquette and Muskegon.

The Detroit parade kicks off at 9:30 a.m., with the building trades lining up as usual along Trumbull, south of Michigan Ave. Members of the Boilermakers will lead, followed by the Cement Masons/Plasterers, UA, Roofers, Bricklayers and Tile Masons, IBEW, Iron Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, Laborers, Asbestos Workers, Elevator Constructors, Painters and Operators.

The march will proceed east on Michigan Ave. to Woodward.

In Grand Rapids, parade-goers can gather at John Ball Park between 8 and 9 a.m., where buses will take participants to the start of the parade at Winter and Fulton streets. The parade starts at 10 a.m. After the parade at 12:30 p.m., a picnic will take place at John Ball Park.

In Marquette, the 2002 Labor Day Festival will start with an 11 a.m. parade along Third Street, followed by a picnic and other activities at Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

In Muskegon, the West Michigan United Labor Day Parade will start at 11 a.m.

The staging area is at Pere Marquette Park, and participants are asked to arrive between 9-10:30 a.m. A picnic at the park will follow the parade.

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Congress gives final OK to Fast Track

WASHINGTON (PAI) - Congress yielded to pressure from the business community and the Bush Administration and gave final approval to fast-track trade authority for the president.

The key vote came in the U.S. House at 3:30 a.m. on July 27, when fast-track
passed 215-212. The GOP overwhelmingly supported fast track in July (190-27) and Democrats overwhelmingly opposed it (25-183).

The Senate passed fast-track on Aug. 1, 64-34, even after congressional
negotiators dumped a key pro-worker section in the Senate's original version
of fast-track. That provision ordered separate votes on any trade treaty
sections that overrode U.S. trade laws, especially laws affecting dumping.

Fast-track lets President Bush send future trade treaties to Congress for up-or-down, all-or-nothing votes, without amendments and without provisions for labor rights. The Senate sweetened the bill for workers by inserting tax credits to partially pay health care costs of those who lose their jobs due to imports.

But the fast-track votes still left union leaders fuming. AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney called the Senate's vote "shameful" for ducking the opportunity "to fix trade deals to make them work for working people."

And he vowed that each representative "who voted to put jobs on a fast track
to nations where corporations routinely exploit workers' rights" will be held accountable in November.

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Greatest challenge to installing new pollution controls at Monroe Power Plant is the plant itself

By Marty Mulcahy
Editor

MONROE - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's nationwide drive to reduce fossil fuel power plant emissions has brought about a remarkably complex and costly engineering and construction project that will make for a cleaner-burning and greener Monroe Power Plant.

The building trades, owner DTE Energy, engineer/constructor The Washington Group and Babcock Borsig Power are in the process of installing four SCRs (selective catalytic reducers) to reduce nitrous oxide pollutants next to the four boiler units of the 3,000-megawatt power plant. Construction began in 2000. The retrofit of the first unit is nearly complete, work on the second is ongoing, and the entire project is expected to be complete by May 1, 2004.

"To meet the requirements of the EPA, we needed a big-time reduction in NOx (nitrous oxide) emissions," said DTE Energy Project Manager Bill Terrasi. "We looked at 14 different technologies. The best solution we found was to put in the SCRs, but they're very expensive. And it's such a difficult project because we're trying to stuff this new equipment in a plant that wasn't designed for an easy retrofit.

"We've had engineers in from power plants around the country who have to install SCRs, and they tell us they're glad they're not us. This is probably the most difficult project of its type in the nation."

The $630 million price tag on the retrofit makes it the largest construction project for DTE since the Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant was completed in 1987. More than 600 construction workers are currently on the project, outnumbering the 450 DTE employees at the plant.

Completed in 1974, the coal-burning Monroe Power Plant is the largest power producer in DTE Energy's fleet and is the sixth largest in the nation. The plant is also the utility's largest emitter of nitrogen oxides, which can contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. The EPA is requiring many power providers to reduce those emissions.

Selective catalytic reducers are part of a "post-combustion" system that treats furnace flue gas. As part of the process, diluted gaseous ammonia is injected into the gas stream ahead of the SCR. The nitrous oxide and ammonia react to form harmless molecular nitrogen.

The installation of the SCRs and improvements in their other plants will reduce NOx emissions by 65-70 percent company-wide during the warm-weather ozone season.
DTE Energy is spending more than $800 million to bring its plants in line with federal low-NOx standards.

"We've done enough sections where we've got a pretty good system going," said Dan Sadoski general foreman for Boilermakers Local 85 and the Washington Group. He was part of a crew installing a hood section atop one of the SCRs. "As we get more experience up here, it makes everything a little easier to figure out, but there's still a lot of hard work to be done. More than half of the rigging gang out here are apprentices, and they're doing a bang-up job. You couldn't ask for better workers."

Retrofitting the SCR units at the Monroe plant created a chain reaction of other tasks for the building trades. The design calls for portions of each SCR to be wedged in between the furnace outlet and the air heater inlet, while other SCR sections are being constructed above the existing boiler houses, reaching the height of an 11-story building.

The retrofitted SCRs and ducting made the flue gas throughout the system more meandering - meaning four heavier duty draft fans had to be installed, plus the associated duct work.

To support it all, each SCR unit at the Monroe plant requires the construction of more than 6,000 tons of structural steel. In more than 100 areas, the existing frame work of each of the boiler units had to be beefed up to accommodate the new equipment.

"We learned a lot from the first unit, and now we're building momentum," said Steve Miles, construction manager for The Washington Group. "We're installing this new technology in such a confined area, it's hard to get out of each other's way. But that's just the way the plant was built - it wasn't built for a retrofit."

The installation of the SCRs is all being done while all four of the plant's boilers remain in operation. Plans call for the SCRs to be started up during normally scheduled shutdowns.

Terrasi said well over one million man-hours will be spent on each of the four units - a number which would be reduced significantly if a power plant wasn't operating just a few feet away.

"Working on such a congested site, what the trades are doing here is very impressive," he said. "This project would go up in a heartbeat if we were building on a green field, but of course have to do it here. The trades are doing a fine job and we're fortunate to have them here."

THE RUST-COLORED HOOD section over the selective catalytic reducer under construction on Unit 1 is lowered into place at the Monroe Power Plant.

THIS CRANE at the Monroe Power Plant - the Manitowac 21,000 - is one of seven that are the largest in the world, and it will be operated by Frank Thomas of Local 324. The crane has a 640-foot boom and 1,000-ton lift capacity. The big capacity will allow the building trades to assemble more of the selective catalytic reducers on the ground.

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Save-a-Life Club invites you to join

By Susan Carter
MCTSI Executive Director

For decades Michigan's building trades have relied on classes on first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and now automated external defibrillation (AED) from the Michigan Construction Trades Safety Institute and its predecessor.

Today's MCTSI is a subsidiary of the Great Lakes Construction Alliance and has annually re-certified hundreds of skilled trades workers in its Save-A-Life Club.

MIOSHA regulations call for at least one worker who has been certified in first aid, CPR, and AED on every project site. Through the support of the membership base of construction unions, employer associations, and signatory contractors, the goal of the MCTSI is not only to make sure that requirement is filled, but to enhance every skilled trade worker's ability to deal with medical emergencies, whether they occur at work, off the job, or at home.

On average one in three Americans suffer a nonfatal injury every year and over 140,000 die in accidents. In fact, injuries are the third leading cause of death, topped only by heart disease and stroke. Knowledge and training in emergency medical skills can reduce death and improve the injured victim's chances for a full recovery. Simply knowing what to do when a back, neck, or skull fracture from a fall or impact - be it from a structural steel beam or from an excavation accident - can be extremely important.

That's because each year more than 80,000 in our country suffer unnecessary but permanently disabling injuries of the spine and brain.

Of course, people normally don't want to think about accidents and other dire medical emergencies. It also takes a commitment of time for studying, training, and practicing to keep your emergency medical skills up to date. But the payoff can be huge if you ever have the opportunity to save the life of a co-worker, friend, parent, or child.

Take heart attacks. A person's first heart attack can strike them at any time or place, often without warning. He or she may be unaware of any pre-existing problems. Chances for a heart attack rise as people get older, an important consideration in a construction labor force that is not as youthful as it once was. Knowing CPR and how to use AED devices can greatly improve their chances for survival.

Significantly, 250,000 Americans per year die of a heart attack within one hour of its onset. If they'd received emergency treatment, a great many of them would be able to reach the emergency room and be saved.

CPR combines rescue breathing with chest compression to temporarily provide oxygen to the brain and heart until advanced medical support can be provided. If cardiac arrest (heartbeat stoppage) has occurred, an AED can be used to administer an electric shock through the chest wall to restore a beat.

Today's portable AEDs have built in computer chips to assess the victim's heart rhythm, judge whether a defibrillating shock is needed, and to administer the shock. More than 350,000 Americans die every year of sudden cardiac arrest outside of hospitals. Survival from cardiac arrests is directly linked to the time to defibrillation by an AED. Survival rates drop 10% for every minute defibrillation is delayed.

Without formal first aid training, people may believe they've picked up enough on how to deal with medical emergencies from television or other public media, but probably what they do know is fragmentary at best. During a real medical emergency they may not remember what they learn or be too panic stricken to appropriately make use of it. That's why taking classes through the MCTSI can be very appropriate, even if you never have to use your knowledge at work.

If your son hits his head while diving in your backyard swimming pool, or your father collapses next to you at church, or your neighbor falls off his roof, you'll be thankful you took the time to become a certified Save-A-Life club member.

MCTSI classes are conducted at 22 locations around the state of Michigan, with the Fall 2002 schedule beginning just after Labor Day. The institute can also conduct special class sessions at signatory contractor offices by special arrangement. Eight hours of class time are required to receive a certification card. To remain certified you must take a two-hour MCTSI refresher class every year.

To get you and your fellow workers involved in Save-A-Life certification, have your employer or union contact the MCTSI directly, to set up classes and obtain schedules. It can be reached at (800) 657-8345 or by e-mail at info@mctsi.org.

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Another busy season for road work(ers)

$1.5 billion keeps trades active around the state

With $1.5 billion being spent to repair and rebuild Michigan's roads this year, Hardhats working on building and improving the state's streets and bridges are enjoying another robust year.

Road work was under-funded throughout the 1990s, but made a significant jump to about $1 billion in 1998. State outlays then peaked in 2001 at $1.54 billion, declined slightly this year, and the Michigan Department of Transportation estimates that funding will gradually drop off to about $1 billion in 2006.

"Overall in 2002 we've had good weather conditions and good contractor performance," said MDOT spokesman Ari Adler. "Our projects are on schedule or ahead of schedule." Michigan's building trades workers and their contractors will repair and rebuild about 1,400 miles of road and 280 bridges in the state highway system this year.

Adler said contractors bidding on road work will find work warranties "much more prevalent" in the future. Contractors have offered seven-year warranties for the asphalt surface of a portion of Telegraph Rd. in the Detroit area, and on the concrete surface for a portion of U.S. 131 south of Grand Rapids.

Michigan Gov. John Engler, who generally ignored the deteriorating road issue during his first two terms of office, said "we are well on our way to achieving the goal of having 90 percent of state roads in good condition by 2007."

A number of small, medium and large projects around the state are keeping building trades workers and their contractors busy. Here is a sampling:

M-6/South Beltline - The largest ongoing project in the state is the construction of a 20-mile limited access freeway dubbed the M-6/South Beltline project near Grand Rapids. Phase I, from I-96 to M-37, opened to traffic in November 2001, while Phase II, from M-37 to US-131, and Phase III, from US-131 to I-196, will be open to traffic by 2005.

The $146 million east-west highway project will include eight interchanges and will help alleviate traffic and congestion on local roads.

"Although we have been working steadily on M-6, until now most of the work on Phase III has been off the beaten path," said Grand Region Engineer Steven J. Earl. "The progress being made this year will be quite obvious, and it's very exciting as we're getting closer to having the roadway open to traffic by 2005."

M-5 Haggerty Connector - The $21 million final phase of the M-5 Haggerty Connector - which will be far shorter than original plans had called for years ago - is expected to be complete in November. The final portion of the project is a new road between 14 Mile and Pontiac Trail.

When completed, the new M-5 will stretch from I-696 to Pontiac Trail in western Oakland County.

The first section of M-5 between 12 Mile and 14 Mile opened in August 1999.

I-96 reconstruction near Lansing - This one has been a real headache for motorists this summer.

The $35 million project began in March, and involves reconstruction of the highway, as well as repair or replacement of 16 bridges. Reduced traffic lanes have been maintained in Eaton County between M-43 and Lansing Rd. through median crossovers, and the resulting traffic backups have been significant.

In addition, a preventive maintenance project will occur in stages along I-96 from Wacousta Rd. to M-43 and from Lansing Road to just east of US-127. Improvements include pavement patching and grinding, along with bridge repair and painting and crack sealing.

I-75 in Sault Ste. Marie - This is the northern terminus of Interstate 75, the longest continuous north-south freeway in the U.S. at a length of 1,775 miles. Here, MDOT and the building trades are reconstructing three miles of pavement on I-75 from just south of the Three Mile Road interchange to the toll plaza at the International Bridge.

Work on the $7.2 million project is expected to wrap us this month, and includes the removal of existing pavement, resurfacing, drainage and guardrail upgrading, and installation of a median barrier wall.

NEW PAVEMENT is placed on the M-6/U.S. 131 project near Grand Rapids. (MDOT Photographic Services photo).

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NEWS BRIEFS

Have you seen AIS where you work?
AIS is a heavy equipment construction rental firm with six locations around Michigan's Lower Peninsula. If you see AIS equipment, transport drivers or service technicians on a construction site, Operating Engineers Local 324 would like to hear from you.

The use of AIS equipment and services may lead to area standards/informational job site action as set forth by Local 324.

Local 324 is aware that AIS removes company logos and subcontracts trucking. All non-signatory contractors are subject to job site action. All such conduct will be in strict conformity with the law and precedents established by the NLRB.

If you see AIS on your jobsite, please notify Local 324 at (734) 462-3660.

Union protection urged For Homeland workers
WASHINGTON (PAI) - Working with Senate allies, labor stalled GOP President
George W. Bush's plan to deprive thousands of federal workers of union
protections.

The 170,000 workers involved would be in the 22 agencies Bush wants to
fold into his proposed Department of Homeland Security. The GOP-run House
approved the department in late July - without the worker protections - but
on July 31, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee refused.

Instead, its version of the legislation says workers retain their civil service rights, their right to unionize and their whistleblower protections. Its decision forced a delay in the final Senate vote on the department for a month or more.

The Senate panel's stand cheered union leaders and angered Bush, who vowed
to veto his own bill if workers' rights remain. His homeland security advisor, former Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Ridge, told the Chamber of Commerce - Bush's backers - that Bush needs "management flexibility" for the new $34 billion agency.

That type of language drew objections from labor and Democrats, though they
agree with Bush on the need for the agency to protect domestic security
after last year's terrorist attacks.

"History has proven that granting workers their rights does not imperil
national security," AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said. "The U.S. has
guaranteed its career employees civil service protections and successfully
fought and won wars."

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley said Bush "believes that union membership and national security are opposing forces,
when in fact the union is a strong partner in national security."

Said American Federal of Government Employees President Bobby L. Harnage, whose union represents 32,500 of the workers whom Bush would transfer and strip of union protection, "Homeland security requires a secure workforce. Federal employees need a system that allows them to speak out about mismanagement in their new agency without fear of losing their jobs. He added Bush's plan would let political appointees mismanage it and produce "the same approach that brought...crash-and-burn corporate scandals."

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