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November 12, 1999

Double whammy for ABC

'Big' describes plenty about new metro airport

Bill of rights? It's a bill of goods

Local 32, IMI promote union skills, training

Local 514 celebrates a century




Double whammy for ABC

In Congress, fewer willing to take on prevailing wage
Michigan's Republican lawmakers may be hot on the trail of dismantling our
state's Prevailing Wage Act.

But we've noted in the past - and now there's additional evidence - that in Congress, Republican lawmakers seem to have cooled on the idea of repealing the federal prevailing wage law, the Davis Bacon Act.

The U.S. Senate last month voted 59-40 to table a measure that would remove prevailing wage requirements from construction activity associated with the clean-up in North Carolina and other Eastern states following Hurricane Floyd. Tabling the resolution means it was effectively killed.

The proposal to table came from Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, who said the Davis-Bacon Act serves "a very important purpose" and ensures that the "federal government will get quality work" and that workers will be paid "a decent wage."

Associated Builders and Contractors national President David Bush huffed that the Senate "heaped insult on injury" to hurricane victims "by upholding costly, inefficient and outdated Davis Bacon wage requirements."

However, Sen. Edward Kennedy pointed out that when President Bush rescinded Davis-Bacon requirements in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the General Accounting Office found that the federal government did not save any money.

Courts boost union-only labor pacts
The wind is also coming out of the ABC's sails as they have failed miserably in the fight against taxpayer-funded, union-only construction project labor agreements (PLAs).

In August, California's Supreme Court heard arguments by the ABC and business groups against the legality of the project labor agreements for the San Francisco Airport project, but the court unanimously ruled that the state has every right to enter into such agreements with labor unions. Twelve other state supreme courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, have come to the same legal conclusion.

Bradford Coupe, a management attorney, seemed to throw in the towel at the prospect of further legal protests of PLAs. The risk of PLA's being challenged "has dropped dramatically," he told the Construction Labor Report.

AFL-CIO Building Trades Department attorney Laurence Cohen said "the trend is clearly running in favor of the right of state agencies to use their own discretion to decide when it is in their advantage as owners" to use a project agreement.

However, the ABC said rescinding state PLA laws will remain its number one priority.


'Big' describes plenty about new metro airport

By Marty Mulcahy

Construction activity at the new Metro Airport Midfield Terminal is starting to take off.

The largest public works project in Michigan's history, construction of the terminal is moving along on schedule for completion two years from now.

Managing the project is Huber, Hunt and Nichols, the same firm building Comerica Park. "It's a big project, but the design isn't all that complex," said Construction Manager Charles Prewitt. "We describe the terminal as a skyscraper laying on its side. The design repeats itself a lot, so it makes it easier to manage and easier to build after you get past the learning curve."

SOME WOODEN SCRAP is placed in a scrap-heap by Dan Damron of Laborers Local 334. He was working near the end of the East Concourse footings at the Metro Airport Midfield Terminal.

Nearly a mile long, nothing about the terminal is small, including its price tag:

  • Originally, the cost of the two million square-foot terminal was $366 million, but Wayne County recently tacked on another $207 million for better wall and floor treatments, wider corridors and more retail. Including new roads, parking, a sixth runway, and additional structures, the Midfield Terminal project will cost $1.4 billion.
  • The additional $207 million will increase the area for retail stores at the new terminal from 82,000 square-feet to 125,000 square-feet. The added area will give Metro the second largest airport retail space in the nation, behind Miami.
  • The project is comprised of a terminal building, an East Concourse with 66 jet aircraft gates, and a West Concourse with eight jet gates and 25 commuter aircraft gates.
  • The world's largest parking deck is also going up. Managed by J.S. Alberici and Walsh Construction, the ten-level deck will have spaces for 11,500 vehicles. Cost: $112 million.
  • The new parking deck will double the number of parking spaces currently available at the airport. It will have numerous banks of elevators, moving walkways, a pedestrian bridge, and amenities like luggage check-in and automated pay stations.
  • The big parking structure "is one more example of the type of world class facility we are building for our customers," said Chuck McCloskey, Northwest Airlines Director of Construction, Midfield Terminal Project.
  • Throw in construction of 180 acres of aprons and taxiways, an aircraft hydrant refueling system, drainage, pump stations and a glycol collection system, and you have a tremendous variety of work requiring a tremendous amount of skills from the people on the job. When the job peaks out in August 2000, more than 1,500 building trades workers will be on the job.

THE CONCRETE WALL of a passenger tunnel at the new Detroit Metro Airport Midfield Terminal gets patched by James Woods of Cement Masons Local 514. The terminal is being constructed between two active runways.


Bill of rights? It's a bill of goods

By Rep. Mike Hanley
Michigan House
Democratic Leader

Have you heard about the so-called "Union Worker's Bill of Rights" which was recently proposed by House Republicans? My Democratic colleagues in the House and I would not call this legislative package a bill of rights; it's a bill of goods.

We would caution union members to be wary of the party which has done everything in its power to decimate unions, suddenly advocating worker rights.

Specifically, the legislation would require union members to sign cards every year before your dues money could be used for anything other than collective bargaining, like organizing new members, communicating with you, or lobbying the legislature on labor issues important to you.

The package would also eliminate residency requirements and change state law, to allow workers to receive compensatory time instead of being paid overtime. Worker protections probably would be eliminated. While some workers might find the package appealing, we must remember the Republicans' history on labor issues: Trusting them to look out for your rights is like a chicken trusting Col. Sanders.

Let's look at what critical concerns are facing the working people of this state. Prevailing wage, minimum wage, stronger workplace safety measures, quality education and job training, decent health and child care - these are the things that are important to the workers my colleagues
and I encounter every day.

Until the Republicans are willing to look at these kinds of concerns, which they have not been looking at up to this point, I question the credibility they have with unions and their claim to be promoting a pro-worker agenda.

And while we look at the GOP's failure to act on pro-worker and family issues, let's also look at the negative votes it has cast in recent years for that same group of people.

The current Republican leader voted to eliminate the state's Unemployment Insurance program, and later, he voted to cut unemployment benefits. To date, these Republican cuts have cost unemployed workers who earn about $15 per hour or more, $73.55 per week, $294 per month, or $1,912 over the 26-week maximum benefit period. I'm sure that you will agree that when you are trying to support a family on Unemployment Insurance, a cut of $73.55 is extremely significant.

My Democratic colleagues and I fear that this package is an attempt to chip away at the structure of unions and to lull workers into a false sense of security. Republicans never have been about the business of supporting unions, the rights of workers and organized labor in general, and
they aren't about to change their tune now.

Although the legislation is in the early stages of the process, I urge you to keep close tabs on its progress. And be assured that we, as Democrats in the Michigan House, will continue to fight on your behalf. Advocating on behalf of the working men and women of this state, and their families, will always be a top priority for House Democrats.



Local 32, IMI promote union skills, training

Local 32, IMI promote
union skills, training

Professionals looking to learn more about the tile, marble and terrazzo industry enjoyed one-day, one-stop shopping on Saturday, Oct 23.

That's when Tile, Marble and Terrazzo Workers Local 32 and the International Masonry Institute conducted a one-day exposition and educational conference called Expo '99 at Local 32's union hall and Training Center.

The expo was an opportunity for Local 32 and its affiliated contractors and associations to put their best foot forward for construction managers, specification writers, owners, developers, facility managers, engineers, students, and industry contractors and artisans.

"We're promoting the union portion of the industry," said Local 32 Business Manager Robert Wilson. "I can see from the turnout that this is really going to help our contractors. I'm sure we're going to be doing this next year, and it will bigger and better."

The expo featured technical seminars, craft demonstrations, experts to answer questions and product displays. More than 300 attended. The event was also an opportunity to show off the new 21,000 square-foot Local 32 and Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1 Training Center in Warren.

The International Masonry Institute's Awards for Excellence in Design and Construction were given to recognize outstanding achievement in architectural design, construction, and commitment to tile, marble and terrazzo.

"Very simply this is an opportunity to educate people in the industry and to celebrate the work of the average craft worker," said IMI Michigan Director Larry Darling. "Holding the event in this venue also shows off our training facility and assures designers and builders that their projects will be staffed by qualified artisans."

AMONG THE HOSTS of the Local 32/IMI Expo '99 are (l-r) Local 32 Bus. Mgr. Robert Wilson, BAC I.U. Craft Director of Tile Marble and Terrazzo John Mason, I.U. Executive V.P. Frank Stupar, and retired I.U. Executive V.P. Lou Weir.




Local 514 celebrates a century

YPSILANTI - Members of Painters Local 514 celebrated their "100th Anniversary of Pride and Craftsmanship" during an Oct. 23 dinner and celebration at the Marriot Hotel.

The local welcomed 325 guests and well-wishers to the event. Speakers included International Union of Painters and Allied Trades General Vice President Raymond Rapp, State Rep. Liz Brater (D-53rd District), Michigan Painters District Council No. 22 Secretary-Treasurer Robert Kennedy, and Local 514 Business Representative/Financial Secretary B.J. Cardwell.

"We blew the roof off the place," said an exuberant Cardwell. "It was a really nice tribute to Local 514. Thanks to everybody who came out and joined us."

ON HAND FOR PAINTERS Local 514's 100-year anniversary are (l-r) Fund Administrator Michael Maher, I.U. General V.P. Raymond Rapp, Local 514 Business Rep./Financial Secretary-Treasurer B.J. Cardwell and Painters Michigan District Council No. 22 Secretary-Treasurer Robert Kennedy.



Injuries and illnesses declined in the U.S. construction industry by 38 percent from 1976 to 1997, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a report issued last month. There were 15.3 injury and illness cases per 100 workers in 1976, and that number fell to 9.5 per 100 in 1997.

Big business gives grassroots a try
Labor organizations are used to participating in the difficult and time-consuming process of grassroots campaigning.

Now, reports the Wall Street Journal, the business community is taking a page out of labor's playbook. "Big business…is cutting back on the notion of reaching voters through costly media campaigns and focusing instead on making personal contact through phone banks, mail and door-to-door visits if necessary."

The Journal said in the last two election cycles, grassroots efforts by the 13 million member national AFL-CIO have mobilized "huge blocks of votes on behalf of mostly Democratic candidates and loosened the GOP's grip on Capitol Hill."

There are two major reasons the business community is starting to launch grassroots campaigns. Television ads aren't seen as being as effective as they once were in swaying voters. And, money alone isn't working. In 1998, the nation's business community gave $666 million to political campaigns, compared to $60.7 million in donations by organized labor. Despite the disparity, labor-backed Democrats gained seats in Congress.

"It is our intention to influence the election, and elect more conservative Republicans to Congress," said one GOP operative. "This time, the emphasis is on get-out-the-vote," added a business group spokesman.

AFL-CIO Political Director Steven Rosenthal told the Journal that he doubts if the conservative grassroots efforts will work, because grassroots efforts are about working people relating to other working people. "What they don't understand is, it's built around a relationship, not a candidate," he said.

Substandard training, great marketing
The Associated Builders and Contractors isn't in the same league with unions and their contractors when it comes to training. But when it comes to selling its training programs, the ABC "does a masterful job" and "has a fine-tuned marketing engine," according to Cockshaw's Newsletter.

Cockshaw's reported that representatives from the Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association participated in a focus group in Washington D.C. The participants were six general contractors, who did not know who was conducting the study.

The "real shocker," Cockshaw's said, was the bottom-line evaluation of the six general contractor reps: nonunion training is about equal to union training. "The difference is quality has evaporated," said one.

The other surprise was that the contractors felt that the nonunion sector was spending as much on worker training as the union side. There are no firm numbers on how much the widely scattered nonunion segment spends, but it doesn't approach the $300 million spent every year by building trades unions in the U.S.


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