January 25, 2008
prospects in Michigan: Maybe not great in'08, but not bad
State sees major
drop in fatalities, as job injuries trend downward
Was anyone almost
hurt on your work site today?
quickly to expand, renovate St. John
Trades set up
field for Fabiano, others
Time to write
the obituary on the union entitlement mindset
prospects in Michigan: Maybe not great in'08, but not bad
By Marty Mulcahy
Michigan is said to be in a one-state recession, but someone
should mention that to the construction industry.
Our annual, completely unscientific poll of construction activity
in different regions of the state finds pockets of fairly robust
economy for the building trades, with 2008 expected to be an
overall good year, after a 2007 that wasn't bad, either.
Some areas of the state have stronger prospects than others
in Michigan - but for most trades, jobs are expected to be available
if workers don't mind a longer commute.
Here's what's happening in various corners of Michigan:
Ann Arbor - A 15-year run of good - no great - employment
for Washtenaw County came in an abrupt end in 2006, with substantial
unemployment rearing its ugly head. There was more unemployment
into the first quarter of 2007, directly attributable to the
closing of Pfizer. The sharp decline in the housing market also
hit the unionized building trades, which have had a substantial
foothold on the residential market.
"It was definitely a down year for us in 2006,"
said Greg Stephens, business manager of IBEW Local 252 in Ann
Arbor. "We lost jobs for 50 or 60 guys at Pfizer when they
announced they were closing, and it took us a while to get back
Employment in the area last year was led by work at Toyota's
$130 million technical center in York Twp., the new Ann Arbor
Skyline High School, and as always, work at the University of
The electrical workers have about 60 on the bench right now,
and the pipe trades have even more unemployment. But that situation
is not expected to last.
"It looks like 2008 is going to be a banner year,"
Stephens said. "U of M is ready to bust right open this
year. They're setting steel at Mott Children's Hospital ($500
million) now, and when it gets going later this year, we're going
to have 200 electricians on that project alone."
Other projects that will be major building trades employers
in Washtenaw County this year include the U-M Ross School of
Business, expansion of the U-M Football Stadium, the new Kellogg
Eye Center, a new patient tower at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
the North Quad project, as well as the $171 million Broadway
Village at Lower Town, a mixed-use development.
Bay City/ Saginaw/ Midland area - Building on a good
2006, 2007 was even better and 2008 is "going to be booming"
in the Tri-Cities region, according to Plumbers and Steamfitters
Local 85 Business Manager Scott Garrison.
Right now, in the dead of winter, the local is employing more
than 300 travelers. Their primary employers: Hemlock Semiconductor,
where a $500 million "Phase II" expansion will wrap
up at the end of February - getting ready for a "Phase III"
project that will cost about $1.2 billion. Hemlock makes polycrystal
components for solar panels.
And at nearby Dow Corning in Midland, raw materials for the
Hemlock plant are produced - and a $200 million expansion is
In addition, a boiler outage began Jan. 11 at Consumers Energy's
Karn Weadock power plant, following up a nearly complete installation
of an ash recovery system.
The Fabiano Bros./Marketplace Corporate Center near Midland
has just begun. A new middle school is under construction in
Saginaw. Major addition/renovation work is going on at HealthSource
in Saginaw and Bay Medical in Bay City, as well as smaller jobs
at St. Mary's and Covenant Health in Saginaw.
And in the spring, the Midland Co-Generation Venture is expected
to install four to six new boilers. Construction on an ethanol
plant in Ithaca may start in the spring. Down the road, Consumers
Energy has declared it intention to build a new power plant on
the ground of the Karn-Weadock site - if state regulations can
be changed to make the regulatory environment more fair to established
"We worked close to 1.5 million man-hours last year,
and that was the best in a dozen years," Garrison said.
"2008 looks to be good if not better. They keep talking
about how Michigan is having these job losses - well, we're booming
here in the Tri-Cities."
Detroit/Southeast Michigan - "Cautiously optimistic."
That was the summation of the construction outlook for this
area suggested by Andrew Shmina, President and CEO, A.Z. Shmina,
Inc., and vice chairman of Associated General Contractors of
Focusing on Southeast Michigan, Shmina said despite Michigan's
"nine-year-long economic downtown," there is still
"a healthy optimism" about prospects for work opportunities.
Shmina said that the national construction economy is expected
to grow at a 3-percent rate - "tempered by a whopping 25-percent
plunge for single-family housing." He added: "Construction
in Southeast Michigan and across our state will lag behind the
national picture and, in fact, see a decline of up to 2 percent."
The slowdowns in the residential and multi-family housing
sectors - not traditional strongholds for union construction
- are primarily what's causing the lag. But Shmina said office,
retail and general government work are also part of the slump.
So to is road and bridge building, expected to drop by $300 million,
or 18 percent statewide in 2008.
However, manufacturing and health care sectors are projected
to increase by 14 percent and 36 percent, respectively. He said
K-12 school construction is expected to see "a robust increase"
over 2007, thanks to the passage of bond issues in Southeast
Michigan. And spending of $1 billion for state, county and local
projects will remain consistent with 2007.
A survey of 24 general contractors found that only two respondents
were pessimistic about the prospects for 2008. Others said they
expected the level of work to be about the same, others said
they feel 2008 will be a good year - "maybe even a strong
year," Shmina said.
Nearly every contractor, he said, cited the struggles in the
automotive industry as having a negative impact on their business
whether or not their firm had ever done work for an auto manufacturer.
"You cannot escape the problems of the auto industry if
you make your living in Michigan," was the common refrain,
Shmina's said there is "one major pocket of prosperity
right now in Michigan that should be highlighted given its significance,
and it's the City of Detroit." He said Detroit is experiencing
a number of notable new construction projects.
They include the work, much of it completed, at the Motor
City and MGM casinos, as well as the ongoing construction associated
with the Greektown Casino. There's also the renovation of the
historic Book Cadillac and Fort Shelby hotels, and numerous loft
project downtown. Marathon Petroleum is planning a $1.5 billion
expansion of its Southwest Detroit refinery, and there's health
care work at the Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Hospital
and St. John Hospitals.
Regionally, Ford announced last year it will invest $866 million
in its Southeast Michigan plants. General Motors reported it
will be investing at least $500 million in plant improvements
over the next two to three years. And construction is ongoing
at the new $700 million, 26-gate North Terminal at Metro Airport.
"So as we look ahead to 2008 and prospects for more projects
in the pipeline and shovels breaking ground across our state,"
Shmina said, "let's view the economic outlook with the cautious
optimism expressed by so many. And given the difficult environment
faced by those of us in the construction industry, that's perhaps
the best way to be."
Flint - "The Flint area held our own in 2007,"
said Zane Walker, president of the Flint Area Building Trades
and a business agent with Iron Workers Local 25. "We sent
a lot of our guys to Detroit, Ann Arbor and Up North last year
for work. This year will probably be a little better, but not
much better, than '07."
The big news is east of Flint, near Port Huron, where construction
of the $730 million Chrysler Maryville Assembly Plant will be
ramping up this year. And, at some point, GM has pledged to build
a new engine plant at the Buick City complex.
But locally, pickings have been slim. The area has offered
some school work, in Swartz Creek, Lapeer and North Branch. Light
commercial projects have remained fairly steady, Walker said,
but overall, "it's been an ordeal." He said the out-of-area
work has been very helpful.
"There's work, but you have to drive to it," Walker
said. "I tell people if you want every job to be 10 or 15
minutes from your house, you better have a wife with a good job."
Grand Rapids/Muskegon - Last year at this time more
than 1,000 Hardhats were working at the shutdown of Consumers
Energy's J.H. Campbell plant. The project ended last spring,
but "a lot of work followed the outage," at the plant,
said Bruce Hawley, business manager of Iron Workers Local 340
and president of the West Michigan Building Trades Council. "The
work there really helped us to have a good year in 2007."
Work at Consumers Energy's B.C. Cobb Plant and the Campbell
plant will be significantly less this year, although an SCR pollution
control is expected to be installed on Unit 2 at the Campbell
Plant later this year.
In 2008, the massive "Hospital Hill" or "Health
Hill" development will be the major regional construction
employer, and will be in full swing through the year.
"Grand Rapids has never experienced anything near the
concentrated magnitude of the medical research, training and
patient facility construction now occurring on Health Hill,"
said an article from last July in the New York Times.
All told, nearly $1 billion in construction is taking place
on a hill along Michigan Street. Included is a new medical school,
a children's hospital, a biomedical research center, a cancer
treatment center, and two medical treatment and office buildings.
Also under construction is a seven-level underground parking
garage; it will hold 2,300 cars and cost $30 million. The buildings
will cover 1.2 million square feet.
Also in Grand Rapids, two nine-story hotels are in the works.
Out at the Gerald Ford International Airport, construction
is under way on a new $115 million "parking project,"
which includes the relocation of roadways and the building of
a four-story, 4,900-space enclosed parking structure across from
entrances to the terminal.
Plans also include a 600-foot-long canopy between the parking
structure and the terminal, a gateway plaza, elevators and escalators
from the upper parking levels to the terminal's main level.
"Overall in 2008, it looks like activity is going to
be down a bit from last year," Hawley said, "but it
should still be good. We've got some real good prospects in the
Kalamazoo/Battle Creek - "All in all a good year,"
said Southwest Michigan Building Trades Council President Hugh
Coward, about 2007. "In '08, there are a number of jobs
that should keep us busy."
Among the highlights: some 450 Hardhats are upgrading the
USG paper mill in Otsego. The D.C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant has
scheduled a 45-day shutdown starting in March, and the Palisades
Nuclear Power Plant is expected to have a shutdown in the fall.
Construction on the $270 million Firekeepers Casino in Battle
Creek could begin as early as March. The Gun Lake Casino, if
a lawsuit holding it up is settled, could start just about immediately.
That's also the potential start-up month anticipated for a new
ethanol plant in Watervilet. A Monsanto seed production facility
is expected to start in Constantine. Kellogg's is expected to
expand its research and development area, to the tune of $40
million in Battle Creek.
Battle Creek Public Schools are expected to undertake $69.7
million in building renovations and expansion this spring. And
a number of smaller job, including school projects in Kalamazoo,
are keeping the trades busy.
"In the New Year, things wound down pretty quickly, and
we have people around Michigan and in Milwaukee and Chicago,"
Coward said. "But it won't be long this year, first the
iron workers followed by the other trades, that we're going to
come out of the chute like gangbusters, and we're going to be
Lansing area - "Last year was somewhat of a down
year for work for us," said Scott Clark, business manager
of IBEW Local 665. "And through this spring, there doesn't
look like a lot of relief."
But in the good old summertime and into the fall, work should
be picking up in mid-Michigan. The Accident Fund has chosen the
historic Board of Water and Light's Ottawa Street Power Station
in downtown Lansing to house its new $182 million headquarters
Delta Dental is planning to expand their operations in Okemos
by 115,000 square-feet of office space in two buildings - to
the tune of $85 million. The Michigan State Police are expected
to build a $45 million post in downtown Lansing. Auto Owners
Insurance Agency is expected to build a new $45 million data
retention facility in Delta Twp. Jackson National Life, which
built its Alaeidon Township headquarters in 2000, is already
looking to expand, in a project that may cost $60 million.
The Capitol Club Tower could break ground next month. It would
likely be a 20-story building whose developer expects would cost
up to $40 million. On the site of the old Lansing City Club,
the building would have 80 residential units, restaurants, a
gym, and maybe a grocery store and swimming pool.
Michigan State University has a few major projects being planned,
including a new recycling facility and an art museum.
"Unfortunately, I see the beginning of this year a lot
like last year, with the chance for a turnaround for the greater
Lansing area taking place in the summer," Clark said.
Monroe - "Last year wasn't bad - everyone who
wanted to work, could work, if they were willing to drive,"
said Ron Sweat, business manager of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters
Local 671. A number of area trades workers were able to find
work in Washtenaw County or in Toledo.
This year a flue gas desulferization project at DTE Energy's
Monroe Power Plant is expected to improve job prospects significantly,
especially towards the middle of the year.
"There's going to be work at the Monroe plant, but not
a lot else," Sweat said. "But during the summer and
through the rest of the year, that project should employ everybody
we have and then some."
The Fermi 2 plant underwent a refueling outage in November,
and won't see much significant work until the next refueling
outage in 18 months. There will be ongoing work decommissioning
Fermi 1, however.
Light commerical and residential work is slow, Sweat said,
but with workers traveling, "we're not in too bad a shape
for this time of year."
Traverse City/NW Lower Peninsula - "We didn't have
quite as good a year in 2007 as we did in 2006," said Jeff
Bush, business manager of IBEW Local 498. "This year is
expected to be slow to start, but may turn out well if the jobs
I'm hearing about go union."
A "Main Street America" amusement park has been
proposed for Grayling, although approval of the $160 million
plan is on hold. The state wants more proof from developers that
they have the money to proceed. Also on hold is the McBain ethanol
New Meijers stores are being discussed in Petoskey and Grayling.
Casino work in Petoskey and Manistee kept the trades working
in '07, and work is ongoing at the $80 million Turtle Creek Casino
along M-72 in Williamsburg. The trades also did a significant
amount of work at the Merritt Energy Gas Plant in Kalkaska in
'06 and '07.
"There wasn't much school work in '07 and we'll see a
little more in '08," Bush said. "We're doing some service
work, and some work in small stores, but it's slow right now."
Upper Peninsula - Last year was one to forget in the
U.P., with most union trades down 25-35 percent in man-hours,
reports Tony Retaskie, executive director of the U.P. Construction
Council. "Some projects just didn't materialize, or were
delayed into '08, which of course, is good for us this year,"
As a result, a variety of projects are in the pipeline for
2008. "We're sitting on about $1 billion in work, especially
as we move into late '08," Retaski said. "I'm very
optimistic about our prospects for work."
Northern Michigan University in Marquette has been a dependable
employer, as usual. It has been renovating dorms in the summer
on a regular schedule in recent years, and in '08, the trades
will be converting the campus' Ripley Heating Plant from a gas-burner
to a coal and bio-fuel burner.
The Empire and Tilden iron ore mines, also traditionally dependable
employers, are looking into converting to a nugget production
process for high-grade iron. Construction of the $150 million
Kennecott Eagle Nickel mine near Marquette is expected to start
this year, unless it's stopped by legal action.
A new Bell Memorial Hospital in ongoing in Ishpeming, and
will go through the summer of '08. There is also a new Schoolcraft
Memorial Hospital to go up in Manistique, and a new Emergency
Department at St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba.
Also in Escanaba, a new Besse Fine Arts Building will get
under way at Bay College.
sees major drop in fatalities, as job injuries trend downward
By Marty Mulcahy
LANSING - On-the-job construction industry fatalities in Michigan
took a remarkable drop last year, from 26 in 2006 to 11 in 2007.
The 11 fatalities marked the lowest number of construction industry
deaths in a year ever recorded by MIOSHA.
In recent years in Michigan the single-year high was 37 construction
fatalities in 1997, and the lows were 17 (both in 1995 and 2005).
Falls are the perennial leader in causing worker deaths, and
last year was no different. Five Hardhats were killed by falls,
three were "struck-by," two were electrocuted, and
one was "crushed by."
"We're just very pleased to see the drop in fatalities,"
said Patty Meyer, safety manager for the MIOSHA Construction
Safety and Health Division. "The injury and illness rate
is declining, too - a lot."
Figures released by MIOSHA found that in 2000, there were
9.2 construction workers per 100,000 who suffered a recordable
on-the-job injury/illness. Those incidents have dropped every
year during this decade, to 6.0 in 2005, to 4.7 in 2006. Last
year's numbers have not been completed.
"These are phenomenal numbers," Meyer said. "I
think a lot of good contractors are realizing that working with
MIOSHA and the unions to make safety more of a priority is saving
lives. And working with groups like MUST (Management and Unions
Serving Together) is making for a more educated workforce. The
whole industry is buying into safety, and that's very important
to what's happening here."
Meyer said she doesn't think it's a coincidence that those
numbers are dropping at the same time MIOSHA has been actively
seeking safety partnerships with owners and large general contractors
on major projects. Some of those contractors include Barton-Malow,
Walbridge-Aldinger, and Skanksa.
On those projects, MIOSHA, owners, contractors and union representatives
sign a pledge to work together on safety, moving away from traditional
enforcement methods to collaborative agreements. The philosophy:
zero tolerance for unsafe acts and conditions.
MIOSHA was started up in 1974, and it has saved lives in the
construction industry. In the 1960s, an average of 44 Michigan
construction workers were killed on the job every year.
anyone almost hurt on your work site today?
By Scott Schneider
Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America
Have you ever been walking and a truck pulls out right in
front of you? A few steps quicker and you might have been hit.
Have you lost your balance at heights and caught yourself or
been saved by a safety harness or guardrail? Has something fallen
from a crane overhead and nearly hit you? A close call could
easily have been a serious injury or a fatality. Close calls
are accidents waiting to happen.
Each year, almost 240,000 construction workers lose work time
due to injuries on the job. For each person injured, probably
four or more are almost injured. We call these "near misses"
or "close calls." In total, approximately one million
close calls occur each year. A 2003 study of almost 700 construction
Laborers in the Northwest found that 56 percent had zero to one,
29 percent had two to five and 14 percent had six or more close
calls during the previous year.
Like real safety incidents, close calls are caused by a variety
of production pressures and safety hazards. Everyone may be rushing
to get the job done and not paying close attention to where they
are going or their work. Close calls can also be caused by unsafe
conditions that have been ignored (e.g., guard rails left unfinished
or trip hazards not corrected) when workers feel they do not
have the time or the responsibility to correct them. Whatever
the cause, an assessment of why a close call occurred is the
best way to take necessary action so that the next similar incident
is not a serious injury accident.
What should be done to prevent close calls?
Most companies do accident investigations, but these only
focus on the tip of the iceberg. Yet, any close call could have
been an accident if conditions had been slightly different. In
fact, real injury incidents are just a tiny portion of the total
incidents that might have caused a serious injury. Realizing
this fact, some companies do close- call investigations as well.
Then, they can get a true picture of the major hazards on their
site and where corrective actions are needed.
The first step is a company and union commitment to reporting
close calls. Company safety personnel or a joint health and safety
committee should establish and publicize a reporting procedure.
Each reported incident, then, should be investigated the same
as incidents that actually cause injuries or illness. Based on
the investigation and its assessment, corrective action should
Safety is no accident. A safe work site requires paying attention
to close calls. They reveal the major problems and result in
effective prevention. Close call analysis is the best way to
uncover potential problems and make changes before injury occurs.
move quickly to expand, renovate St. John
By Marty Mulcahy
DETROIT - The largest expansion project in the history of
the St. John Hospital and Medical Center is moving quickly to
the end of its first phase. The fast-paced work is part of $161
million in construction work that will transform the east-side
facility's delivery of care - and its footprint.
This month the first three floors of the new 250,000 square-foot
Van Elslander Pavilion were open, 15 months after construction
began, and the job is about three months ahead of schedule.
"All this was done in 15 months, and the quality of work
didn't suffer, said Stephen Tertel, senior project manager for
St. John Health. "The trades have bought into the commitment
to quality and getting the work done. It was a very aggressive
schedule, but I never heard 'I can't get it done.' It's always
been, 'we'll find a way.' "
When the hospital's transformation is complete in about a
year, the Emergency Department will go from 30,000 square feet
to more than 54,000, and will accommodate more than 85,000 patients
per year. The expanded department will include 72 private treatment
In addition, 144 new private rooms will be added, some existing
rooms will be made modified, giving the facility more than 200
The new construction will create a new heart and circulatory
center, and upgrade and consolidate all cardiovascular and vascular
services in one area. A Diagnostic Imaging Center will bring
all imaging services together in one location adjacent to the
new lobby. And, a new main entrance on the north side has been
There are about 150 Hardhats currently working on site, and
down from a peak of about 500 las
t year. The project is being led by the construction management
team of Skanska/L.S. Brinker. New construction/renovation affects
about 307,752 square feet of space. "The tradespeople and
contractors have done an excellent job," said Dimitris Bitzarakis,
St. John Health's corporate director, design and construction
services. "I didn't think it was possible to finish so far
ahead of schedule, but they showed it is possible."
THE NEW MAIN entrance at St. John Hospital
and Medical Center is part of the new 250,000 square-foot Van
PAINTING A WALL in the new Emergency Center
at St. John Hospital and Medical Center is Anthony Elliot of
Painters Local 213 and Duross Painting. The area was formerly
the radiological department.
set up field for Fabiano, others
MONITOR TWP. - The 70-acre lot at the southeast corner of
U.S. 10 and Mackinaw Rd. near Midland still had the appearance
a farmer's frozen hayfield last month, but part of it is rapidly
being transformed into a hub of commerce for a major beer, wine
and liquor distributor.
Fabiano Brothers Inc., established in 1911, is a beverage
distributor to the eastern, central and northern counties of
the Lower Peninsula. Last fall, they broke ground on their new
200,000 square-foot building, which will anchor the "Marketplace
Corporate Center" business park. They're building on about
21 acres of the property.
"The frozen ground is a bit of a challenge, but it's
going great, we're getting ready to start the tilt-up,"
said Robert Kitchen, project director for CSM, which is managing
the project. Tilt-up refers to the insulated cast-on-site concrete
panels which will form the walls of the new distribution center/corporate
About 25 Hardhats were on site last month, installing pipe,
electrical conduit and preparing for foundation work. Contractors
included Fisher Contracting (excavating), Nelson Electric, Remer
Plumbing and Heating, and Christman Construction (footings/concrete).
PLACING A 12-INCH STORMWATER drain at a new
corporate park new Midland are (l-r) Jim Brink and Kevin Russell
of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 85.
to write the obituary on the union entitlement mindset
A dirty little secret? Hardly. More like a tattoo on our forehead
that everyone can see easily but us.
Union Entitlement Mentality is killing us in the marketplace.
Union Entitlement Mentality is slowing production, retarding
change and eroding work ethic. It is a highly paid welfare program
for some of the blue collar union members across all crafts in
the U.S. and Canada.
I would define it as a belief that union affiliation automatically
comes with considerations and entitlements that do not correlate
to personal output, work ethic or contribution.
Union entitlement and the apprentices. Every day we
strive to instill a value system into tens of thousands of young
men and women; and to remind them that their future opportunity
hangs in the balance. We have a very limited window of time to
On the other hand, the vast majority of their time is on the
jobsite with all kinds of peers who exhibit varying degrees of
commitment. This is not to say that the majority they are exposed
to are problematic; just the opposite.
However, when an apprentice sees an individual not contributing
and perhaps detracting from the team effort, being paid the same
as other workers, and the union and contractor standing by and
that is a message we can ill afford to continue.
Having made presentations to tens of thousands of rank and
file members this past year, I can tell you that our apprentices
are having a very difficult time standing up for themselves on
the jobsite. They see the old-school Entitlement Culture and
want no part of it, but do not know how to address it without
conflict. The "don't rock the boat" factor kicks in
and they passively accept what they do not agree with.
Both labor and management need to be pro-active in assisting
and supporting them as they develop their initial workplace value
system. Codes of Excellence and Conduct as they are being implemented
across North America are a great start, but they only form a
framework for behavior and values; the rest is always up to the
The demise of union entitlement. Many union leaders
and business managers are afraid to take on this sacred cow.
It can be a real political hot potato. But from the feedback
I am getting, vast numbers of the quiet rank and file members
are waiting for their leaders to take it on at a local level
and stand up FOR THEM. Just because they are quiet does not mean
they don't care.
On the other hand the contractors need to hitch up their pants
and stop whining. You hear them moan about the quality of the
workforce and lack of work ethic - but how many will terminate
a bad apple vs. lay-off, and send them back to the hall and into
the same system that perpetuates support of a marginal personal
Bottom line, it is a team-based solution. Political courage
on the part of the union leadership and pro-active filtering
on the part of the contractors.
In summary, the Union Entitlement Mentality has evolved in
a vacuum. When you don't clearly define who and what you want
as your final outcome, those with the most dominant personalities
or opinions will generally fill the void. And often it is those
with the my-ticket-is-punched entitlement mentality.
It is time they read their obituary. Union Entitlement is
Dead. Long live responsibility, self-pride and work ethic.
Mark Breslin is a trainer and author specializing in labor-management
challenges and solutions. He is the author of the recently published
Attitudes and Behaviors: Survival of the Fittest curriculum for
apprentice training centers. The curriculum is now being used
by union training centers, and has been established as standard
course programming by other International Unions and apprenticeship
programs. Instructional material including books, CDs, workbooks,
instructor guides and support media information is available
Detroit to host union industries show
Detroit has been selected as the site to host the 2008 America
at Work Union Industries Show at Cobo Center.
The event, scheduled the weekend of May 16-18, showcases union-made
automobiles, motorcycles, sporting goods, clothing, housewares,
appliances, foods, glassware, computers, and furniture.
The show moves from city to city every year. The last time
it was in Detroit, in 1995, scores of vendors handed out free
union-made goods to show-goers, and had displays that illustrated
which goods were made in by union members.
This year, a significant change to the show includes allowing
the sale of union-made made-in-the-USA products. In addition,
unionized building trades contractors will be invited to market
their services, in areas like painting, roofing electrical masonry
"We're looking forward to working with the Michigan State
AFL-CIO and the Detroit Central Labor Council to make this show
a breakthrough for our exhibitors and the department," said
Union Label and Service Trades Department President Charles Mercer.
Nonresidential stays strong in 2007
Exclude residential construction, and the value of U.S. construction
starts in 2007 jumped 11.2 percent over 2006.
So said a report issued Jan. 17 by Reed Construction Data,
one of a handful of groups that keep an eye on trends in the
U.S. building industry.
Reed reported that construction starts rose 5.2 percent in
the month of December after two weak months in November and October.
However, the last quarter of 2007 was down 17.6 percent from
the same period in 2006.
Partisan divide seen in voting records
Michigan's two U.S. senators, Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie
Stabenow, were among the most labor-friendly lawmakers in the
U.S. Senate, combining to vote 67-1 in agreement with key positions
taken by the AFL-CIO in 2007.
Stabenow was one of only five senators with a "perfect"
labor-friendly 34-0 score. Levin's only vote that contradicted
the AFL-CIO was on immigration.
Some of the key legislative items that were compared included
the Employee Free Choice Act, limiting guest worker programs,
and funding children's health care.
On the House side, Michigan Republican Candice Miller (Harrison
Twp.) had one of the top pro-labor voting records among all GOP
lawmakers, voting with the AFL-CIO by a 21-12 margin.
Among Democratic presidential contenders who are current federal
lawmakers, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was 27-1, Illinois Sen.
Barack Obama was 23-1 and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich was
On the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain's AFL-CIO
voting record was 3-14, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul was 4-23. Other
major candidates not listed are not current federal lawmakers.