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Final section of parking deck poured Posted by on

View of the parking deck from the entrance

The concrete mixture used in the parking garage is a made up of cement, sand, aggregate (small stones) and water. The concrete comes from the pump truck at the street, and is carried through a telescopic boom over to where the pour is happening. The final section of the boom is a rubber hose, seen below. A laborer controls the hose and pours the concrete into the rebar of the deck. The end of hose cannot be more then 4 feet above the placement, because the cement will separate from the aggregate.

With the concrete poured in place, a rake crew working alongside a cement finisher using a hand screed, which is an aluminum 2x4, move the cement to a rough grade. Next, a cement finisher using a power screed (seen below) and laborers with shovels and rakes bring the cement to a finish grade. The power screed had a small engine that vibrates the unit, which helps the stone aggregate settle down into the pour as the cement rises up, smoothing the surface.

With the concrete graded, it begins to set pretty quickly. As seen below, workers can already walk on top of the surface. A cement finisher uses a power float, also called a whirly bird, to pull the moisture up to the surface to prepare the area for the broom finish. Before this machine came around, this portion of the prep required multiple workers using hand trowels. The process is much more efficient thanks to the power float, it can manage a much larger area while maintaining flatness.

Finally, a cement finisher uses a bull float for one last pass to bring saturated concrete to the surface, making the area smooth. Pushing out with the bull float down, the moisture saturated concrete is brought to the surface. At approximately 20 feet out, he twists the pole, which lowers a broom attached to the end of the float. Pulling back towards his body, the broom runs along the surface of the concrete. The broom finish gives a level of coarseness, allowing for traction for both vehicles and pedestrians.

The surface is then sprayed with water to slow down the curing process. The entire area is then covered with burlap bags, which are also sprayed with water. The purpose of this is to keep the concrete from curing too quickly.

Carpenters participation in career day Posted by on

More workers' comp fraud, cheating workers on OT... Posted by on

From the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. Full release here.

BOSTON - A Winchester construction and demolition company was arraigned and pled guilty in Charlestown District Court on July 22, 2009, in connection with failing to properly pay their employees, failing to pay the proper premium for its workers?? compensation insurance policy, and failing to provide true and accurate payroll records. P & R Partners Construction Inc. (P & R) pled guilty to charges of Workers?? Compensation Fraud, Failure to Pay Overtime, and Payroll Records violations. In addition, the company??s owners and officers, Elienai Coelho, age 30, of Stoneham, and Rodrigo Silva, age 29, of Medford, admitted to sufficient facts for Failing to Pay Overtime and Failing to Provide True and Accurate Payroll Records. After the plea was entered, District Court Judge Mark H. Summerville ordered Coelho, Silva and P & R to pay over $54,000 in restitution to 51 former employees, $50,000 in restitution to the insurance company, and a $30,000 fine to the Commonwealth. Judge Summerville also placed Coelho and Silva on probation for a period of one year.

Lincoln School project leaves something to be desired regarding apprentice training Posted by on

New Bedford Standard Times
Jack Spillane
July 26, 2009

When the national economy goes into the kind of coma it's in now, New Bedford, of course, goes on life support.

And the kind of good-paying jobs that used to be present at construction sites become like defibrillator paddles in an emergency room. There's no shortage of out-for-the-count bodies who want their turn at those paddles.

Which brings me to the situation at the work site for the new Lincoln Elementary School in the North End.

The carpenters union, the contractor and the city of New Bedford have all been competing for the best deal on the Lincoln jobs since the bids for the $20 million project were opened back in April.

But they've yet to come to an agreement that will guarantee that local men and women can obtain all the benefits possible from those defibrillator paddles, er ... job opportunities.

Yes, the Lincoln is a prevailing-wage job site, and yes, the Lang administration ?? after some earlier failures on hiring local people for other city projects ?? has succeeded in reserving 90 percent of the Lincoln jobs for locals.

But once again, the city failed to live up to its Responsible Employer Ordinance and didn't require the winning bidder, CTA Construction Inc. of South Boston, to demonstrate that it could run apprenticeship programs at Lincoln. Those programs would train unskilled city residents for a future share of local carpentry, iron work and manual labor available at construction jobs.

Attorney General Martha Coakley's office earlier this month called out the city for not complying with its own employer ordinance and ordered it to call CTA back in. She now wants CTA, or whatever contractor finishes the project, to demonstrate it has the required apprenticeship programs. Otherwise, it has ordered New Bedford to give the jobs to one of the other bidders that does run apprenticeships.

The Lang administration says it cares about the apprenticeship program and training local people for future jobs. But it also cares about making its September 2010 deadline for opening the school.

It seems to be looking for a way to keep CTA ?? which union officials say has a horrible reputation as a labor-friendly employer ?? staying on the job even though the company has not traditionally always used subcontractors with apprentice programs.

"They were the low bidder. We're going to have to try to work with them," said Mayor Scott Lang.

That doesn't sit right with Ron Rheaume, the Fall River business manager for Local 1305 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

He said that in order to comply with the rules of its ordinance, the city can't use a contractor on the Lincoln school that did not have an apprenticeship program to begin with and that an attempt by Simmons Concrete, a New Bedford CTA subcontractor, to start an apprenticeship program now is too late.

Rheaume asked why a supposedly labor-friendly city is dealing with what he calls an anti-union shop.

"There should be trades there working, the carpenters, the laborers, the iron workers," he said.

On the one hand, the mayor said he has confidence in school business manager Larry Oliveira and purchasing agent Debra Travers, who awarded the contract to CTA, the lowest bidder by just $160,000. But on the other hand, he said CTA should be working with the carpenters' union because the unions have the best contacts with subcontractors who have apprenticeship programs.

CTA has not returned phone calls on the issue.

Meanwhile, a longtime critic of the city's contracts, John "Buddy" Andrade, has begun working with CTA's principal subcontractor, Simmons Concrete, to start an apprenticeship program.

Rheaume said he's worried that the nonunion subcontractor will use Andrade's program to misclassify higher-paid carpenters as lower-paid laborers. He's requested payroll records in an effort to prove it and force CTA out of the job.

"This is not a joke. That's what they're turning this into: a joke," he said, contending that contractors who avoid union shops have brought wages and working conditions crashing in the construction industry.

For his part, Andrade said the attorney general has proved what he has been saying for 11 years: The city of New Bedford is not complying with its REO. "This is a big victory for the community, especially the young workers who are looking for that (training) opportunity."

Lang, who has received union support in his mayoral campaigns, said that if he were CTA, he would work with the unions. They have the most experience running apprenticeship programs. But with CTA locked in a three-year struggle with the carpenters over unionization of their shop, there doesn't seem much chance of that.

Meanwhile, this whole struggle to run apprenticeship programs leaves me wondering when it became so difficult for a union to find work on government jobs in an old-time union city like New Bedford.

It's a new world out there. And a new economy.

And it's not labor-friendly.

To comment on this article on the New Bedford Standard Times' website, click here.

Many news sites allow readers to post comments about a story. Reader comments may appear beneath the story with a form for submitting more comments. Members are encouraged to use this feature and express their feelings about stories they read online concerning union and construction issues. Remember these are public forums, so be direct, but respectful of others. Site editors do reserve the right to remove comments they find objectionable.

HVAC Posted by on

HVAC work continues throughout the building and has begun on the 3rd floor. HVAC, which stands for "heating, ventilating, and air conditioning," is sometimes referred to as climate control and is particularly important in the design of medium to large industrial and office buildings, where humidity and temperature must all be closely regulated while maintaining safe and healthy conditions within (

Ductwork deals with conditioned air, whether heated or cooled. The air comes from a rooftop unit that takes a percentage of outside air and combines it with air that is circulated throughout a building. Dampers throughout the ductwork open and close depending on how much conditioned air is required according to the temperature set on the thermostat.

The ductwork is being installed throughout the Carpenters Centers by sheet metal workers working for United HVAC. On each floor, once the rough sheet metal work is complete, the other mechanical trades can run their pipe work and metal frame work can begin.

There are fans on the roof that turn the air and push it down through the ductwork. Air enters the building through the diffuser ductwork, which connects to branch ducts that run horizontally across the ceiling of each floor of the building. The sweeping elbow units (like the one below) move the air between floors and allow it to turn direction to run horizontally throughout the building.

The air is moved along to the exterior walls where it is pushed down the wall and across the floor to the interior return registers. These return registers have fans that draw the air back up to the air handler on the roof. This conditioned air is then reconditioned and sent back down into the building.

The double wall insulated unit seen here weighs approximately 600 pounds. This unit carries the air from one floor through to another. Because the unit is passing through the concrete floor, the exterior cannot be wrapped continuously in insulation, so the interior of the unit is insulated, eliminating the need for exterior insulation.

Exterior dens glass installed Posted by on

This week, carpenters working for H Carr & Sons installed the dens glass on the exterior of the building along the Expressway. After the dens glass is in place, carpenters with Sunrise Erectors will install the ice and water shield. This shield is a sheet of rubberized adhesive that provides protection from ice and water. On top of the ice/water shield an aluminum grid system will be put in place in preparation for the installation of the Alucobond Panels.

Then and now Posted by on

February 2009

July 2009

PERI Skydeck System Posted by on

Second Section of Parking Deck Posted by on

Crews began work on the second part of the parking garage this week.

Much like in the first section of the garage, the area was first excavated and footings were poured for the concrete columns. Reinforcing dowels project out of the footings. They are the structural stand of the columns that will support the parking deck.

The second section of the parking deck will terminate at the vertical face of the retaining wall. From that end to the street, there will be a concrete apron out to the sidewalk. The parking garage will stretch along the south side of the building, by abutter H&H Builders, to the southwest side at Dorchester Ave.

Visitors will enter from Dorchester Ave and drive up a slight ramp onto the top level of the parking deck. The entryway ramp will be centered to the parking deck. The ramp itself will be 32 feet wide, to accommodate traffic in either direction coming in and out of the garage, by approximately 25 feet long.

The upper parking deck will have 46 parking spaces, there will be 43 spaces in the lower deck. There will be an additional 6 spaces separate from the parking garage at the North end of the building.

The majority of the parking deck, including the entire upper parking deck will be a concrete surface. One section, however, from the base of the ramp at the south side of the parking deck down to the lower level and the first section of the parking decking will be bituminous asphalt. In the lower level of parking deck along the abutter??s side, two vent windows were put in place to create cross ventilation. Asphalt will smoke and burn during a fire, so fire code requires proper ventilation in areas asphalt will be used. Due to the concrete retaining wall along the north section, the lower level in this area of the garage will be concrete, which will crack under heat but will no smoke/burn as asphalt does.

The following blue print highlights the area of the ramp and lower level of the garage that will be covered in asphalt instead of concrete. The pink highlights indicate the vent windows along the abutter??s side of the garage. The rendering below the prints shows that the Expressway side of the lower parking deck will be open, allowing air to move freely into the space.

With the columns in place, the peri system is currently being installed. The reinforcing rod will be installed by the ironworkers late next week. In approximately two weeks the second section of the parking deck will be poured.

City must enforce Responsible Employer Ordinance Posted by on

The Massachusetts Attorney General's office ruled that the city of New Bedford must enforce its Responsible Employer Ordinance in response to a bid protest filed by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. The NERCC filed a bid protest at the Lincoln Elementary School project, charging that the winning bidder, CTA Construction, did not have the required registered apprenticeship training program and had not demonstrated that the subcontractors they would hire had them either.

The AG's office told the city that it should provide a "reasonable period of time" for all the general contractor's who submitted bids for the construction project to supply documentation of their apprenticeship programs. Once this information is provided, the city can evaluate which contractor will be awarded the project. The contract must be rebid if none of the contractors can meet the apprenticeship requirement.

NERCC Organizers have been working to shine a light on CTA, specifically their history of hiring substandard subcontractors. Organizers have discovered a multitude of CTA projects with repeated prevailing wage violations and numerous labor law violations, including failure to file true and accurate payroll records, misclassification of independent contractors, and cash under-the-table payment to workers.

There are many CTA subcontractors that have been cited by the Attorney General's office. Two recent stories published on include Phat's Hardwood Floor and Garcia Drywall.

To check out the New Bedford Standard Times' coverage of the Lincoln Elementary school project, click here.

Many news sites allow readers to post comments about a story. Reader comments may appear beneath the story with a form for submitting more comments. Members are encouraged to use this feature and express their feelings about stories they read online concerning union and construction issues. Remember these are public forums, so be direct, but respectful of others. Site editors do reserve the right to remove comments they find objectionable.

Company underpays workers' comp, charged with fraud Posted by on

Paul McKunes, from Holliston, MA, and his business M&M Equipment Services, Inc. were arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on charges they allegedly provided inaccurate payroll information to their insurer and payroll administrator to secure a lower workers?? compensation insurance premium and to avoid paying the full amount of unemployment insurance and state income tax. The charges include Unemployment Fraud (10 counts), Failure to Withhold State Income Tax (31 counts), Workers?? Compensation Fraud (3 counts), and Larceny Over $250 (3 counts).

The Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts (IFB) referred the case to the Attorney General??s Office in September 2008 after an investigation into the company??s payroll and an insurance claim filed by an M&M employee who was allegedly not on the company payroll. According to authorities, McKunes and M&M purchased workers?? compensation insurance from Atlantic Charter Insurance Company (Atlantic) for the policy years from September 2002 to September 2005. Authorities allege that in an effort to obtain a lower workers?? compensation premium, McKunes and M&M underreported its actual payroll by not reporting payments to undisclosed employees and not reporting overtime compensation.

Gross payroll (whether by cash or check) is an integral component in the calculation of a workers?? compensation policy premium. According to authorities, this matter was referred to IFB for investigation after an auditor from Atlantic discovered corporate tax returns filed by McKunes and M&M for nearly $400,000 in payments to subcontractors, which were not disclosed in the premium audit. As a result of this alleged premium avoidance scheme, McKunes and M&M underpaid its workers?? compensation insurer a total of $51,850 in premium payments.

Authorities further allege that by underreporting its payroll to its payroll administrator during the relevant dates, McKunes and M&M underpaid the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development??s Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA) in the amount of $23,769 of unpaid assessments and failed to withhold over $40,405 in state income taxes to the Department of Revenue (DOR).

McKunes and his company were both entered pleas of not guilty. McKunes was released on personal recognizance. They are due back in court on August 20, 2009, for a pre-trial conference.

Roof Work Contines Posted by on

Last week, the interior frame work was completed on the roof and the dens glass was installed. Crews working for Oak Roofing and Sheet Metal installed the dens glass and covered it with a polyvinyl reinforced vapor barrier. This barrier prevents water that condensates between the layers from penetrating the walls.

On top of the vapor barrier, three inches of rigid Styrofoam insulation was installed, followed by a layer of asphalt-backed drywall. Finally, the wall was covered by a layer of thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO). The TPO along the walls overlays on the roofing TPO to prevent leaks.

On the q-deck on the roof, a similar installation occurred. A vapor barrier was installed and a 6-inch Styrofoam insulation was put on top (seen below in pink). The next layer is drywall with an asphalt coating, which is attached to the q-decking underneath using 9-inch screws.

Last week Oak Roofing and Sheet Metal Foreman Willy Hernandez worked with a crew of nine roofers.

With the drywall screwed in place, the TPO can be installed (seen here in white).

Parking Deck Retaining Wall Completed Posted by on

Carpenters working for S&F Concrete poured the concrete for the retaining wall at the northwest section of the parking garage. The area in front of the wall continues to be cleared out, with the dirt being used as back fill on the other side of the retaining wall.

Early next week, crews will strip the peri-form work of the first section of the parking deck. The form system will be cleaned and used for the remaining section of the parking deck.

Meanwhile, the first section of the parking deck has been covered with an insulation blanket to prevent the sun from curing the concrete too rapidly.

Concrete Poured for Pavilion Posted by on

Before the concrete pour, polyvinyl chloride piping was installed in the slab of the pavilion. This piping is able to be bent and looped as seen here. Much like the stairs in the garage, heated anti-freeze will be pumped through these pipes during the winter months to heat the atrium entrance way.

The pavilion atrium is located halfway between the first and second floor. It is the the main entrance to the building. Upon entering, visitors will check in with the security guard and then take either the stairway up half a level to the second floor, or an elevator up to the second floor or down to the first floor. The floor in this area will be stone tile and the walls on three sides of the atrium will be aluminum framed glass walls.

As with the concrete poured for the first section of the parking garage, test cylinders were made from the concrete poured for the pavilion floor and second floor lobby area. These cylinders will be taken off site to the Universal Testing Services (UTS) lab where they will be put in a press (7 days from the pour and 28 days from the pour). This test ensures that the concrete is cured to the proper design strength. By the 28th day, the concrete should be able to withstand 5,000 pounds of pressure.

Video Update Posted by on

More on Hilda Solis Posted by on

The Secretary of Labor has continued a commitment to working people and unions. The New York Times ran a piece on her yesterday with some illuminating comments on her past, present and future plans.

She has promised a vigorous campaign to combat workplace violations, after government auditors found that the Bush Labor Department sometimes did not follow up on complaints of minimum wage, overtime and child labor violations. She said she planned to hire 250 more investigators and conduct a nationwide outreach program so that workers knew their rights and employers knew their obligations.

"There are so many people I knew when I was growing up who were not even paid the minimum wage," Ms. Solis said. "People wouldn??t know where to go to lodge a complaint. And if you didn??t speak good English, forget it."

Her goal of restoring morale and efficiency to the 17,000-employee department would not be easy, she said, partly because so many dedicated people had quit in recent years.

Hendry Street video posted Posted by on

A video of renovation work done by union carpenter apprentices on homes on Hendry Street in Dorchester has been posted at

Economic indicator Posted by on

A not so scientific study of the economy in Oregon.

TAGS: Economy, Media

NY misclassification chase showing results Posted by on

Over the July 4th holiday, the Rochester, New York Democrat and Chronicle published a piece by Neil Gilberg, a member of the New York state Workers Compensation Board. Gilberg points to the progress the state has made in lowering rates for workers?? compensation insurance, largely due to the state??s crackdown on misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

There is reason to believe New England businesses and workers will see some of the same benefits in the next few years. Less than a year after New York established an inter-agency task force to work on worker misclassification, Massachusetts did the same. Efforts are now also underway in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont to reduce the practice whereby employers illegally lower their business costs by misclassifying workers.

The Massachusetts Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy recently released its first annual report, detailing more than $1.4 million collected in owed taxes. They also pointed to an expected surge in compliance due to "word of mouth": and media coverage of "Stop Work" orders issued against companies that do not have proper workers compensation insurance.

Concrete Pour at Parking Deck Posted by on

Laborers and cement finishers working for S&F Concrete poured concrete today for the first section of the parking deck.

Concrete mixers, like the truck seen below, typically carry between 10-14 yards of concrete. Most trucks arriving on site today were carrying 11 yards.

This first section of the parking deck will require approximately 380 yards of concrete.

The parking garage will stretch along the south side of the building, by abutter H&H Builders, to the southwest side at Dorchester Ave. Visitors will enter from Dorchester Ave and drive up a slight ramp onto the top level of the parking deck. Cars will get to the lower level of the deck by using the ramp at the south side. The stairwell connecting the lower level to street level will be heated for de-icing purposes. Plastic tubes will be laid out within the concrete slab that will pump heated antifreeze from the boiler room in the basement of the building.

There will be 95 parking spaces at the Carpenters Center.

Concrete Pour at Parking Deck Scheduled Posted by on

As mentioned in previous posts, the parking garage at the Carpenters Center is a poured in place concrete deck. Given the design of the building and the topography of the land up to Dorchester Ave, the garage slab elevation needed to be at 20.5 feet above sea level. This elevation gave the proper slope for the ramp.

A structural steel structure was not an option. If steel were used in the garage design there wouldn??t be enough height clearance for vehicles. The poured in place system, on the other hand, uses a temporary peri-form system (seen below), which allows for the steel required to carry the slab to be placed within the slab itself. Aside from the design benefits, the peri-system is aluminum and ergonomic, requiring less time to install and is easier to put in place. 4-6 man crew can lay 2,000 square feet in a day.

The peri-system was built up to the sides of the concrete column. The reinforcing bar (rebar) is put in place on top of the system and connected to the hook bars in the columns.

Concrete is then poured (scheduled for early next week, weather permitting) in place and the peri system is left in place for a full seven days while the concrete cures.

At the time of the pour, test cylinders on site are poured as well. After the 7-day period, these cylinders are tested to ensure the structure will be able to hold the load required. When the test cylinders meet the necessary requirements, the peri system can be removed from underneath the poured slab.

At the other end of the entrance, carpenters are doing form work for the retaining wall.

The concrete for the first half of the parking deck is scheduled for early next week. Work on the parking deck will continue in July.

The dirt area seen here will eventually be dug out and the soil will be used as back fill for the retaining wall. With the area excavated and graded, crews can begin work on the rest of the garage.