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Union trades workers resent backlash Posted by on

Full story here....

A majority of Americans now say unions are bad for the nation, according to Gallup polls. And the loss of two big trade shows at McCormick Place, for which the expense of union help was blamed, is bound to provoke more grumbling about organized labor in Chicago, traditionally one of the most loyal of union towns.

At the office building construction site at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street, the talk among union workers the other day was tinged with bitterness. Many of the workers said they think they get a bad rap.

But at Gage, a fashionable cafe just a block from the pounding hammers and buzzing saws, Steve Thompson, a cyber-executive, said he considered $40-an-hour pay ??unreasonable?? for the crowd in steel-toe boots, ??given their education and training.??

To workers in the trades, that kind of talk is as familiar as the freezing wind that slaps their faces on outdoor job sites, sometimes while working on a six-inch wide steel beam on the 75th floor.

Union Carpenters praised in Maine Posted by on

Union Carpenters were given a public pat on the back last week for work they're doing with area residents to winterize their homes. A woman who was the recipient of the good will effort wrote to the Portland Press Herald to give an enthusiastic thanks.

Worcester Crowne Plaza hits tough times Posted by on

The Worcester Crowne Plaza, which ran into some trouble (here and here) recently over construction issues at their hotel, has been taken into receivership. The Worcester Telegram-Gazette reports the owner defaulted on a $16.3 million mortgage.

"A receiver has taken control of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Lincoln Square weeks after the hotel??s owner, Lodgian Inc., defaulted on $16.3 million in mortgage debt, according to a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lodgian, based in Atlanta, reported that David Buddemeyer of Driftwood Hospitality Management LLC took possession of the hotel Nov. 19. Mr. Buddemeyer is now ??holding, operating, managing and maintaining?? the property on behalf of Wells Fargo Bank, a trustee for holders of certain Wachovia Bank Commercial Mortgage Trust certificates, Lodgian reported.

Mr. Buddemeyer was appointed receiver in a Nov. 20 order by Judge F. Dennis Saylor in U.S. District Court in Worcester, according to court filings."
"The Worcester Telegram-Gazette reported in June that the hotel would face a financial backlash as a result of it's construction decisions.
As a result of the controversy, three unions have pulled their conferences from the Crowne Plaza, and one prominent local politician said he??ll try to block the statewide Democratic convention from using the hotel.

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters, of which Local 107 is a member, has pulled the apprenticeship conference scheduled for October. The conference, which draws 500 people over three days, has been held at the Crowne Plaza for a decade. Its organizers are looking for another venue in Worcester for the event, according to Mr. Thompson.

The AFL-CIO of Massachusetts had scheduled its statewide conference at the Crowne Plaza in September, according to Joseph P. Carlson, president of the AFL-CIO of Central Massachusetts.

The AFL-CIO conference, which will draw 300 to 350 attendees over three days, will now be held at the Newton Marriott. Mr. Carlson said that in addition to losing conference fees and meals for all the attendees over three days, the hotel will probably lose 1,000 to 1,200 hotel room stays as well.

??It??s foolishness that the Crowne Plaza couldn??t find local people to do this work,?? Mr. Carlson said. ??We??re showing our displeasure by taking our dollars somewhere else.?? Mr. Carlson, who lives in Worcester, said it was a ??real shame?? that the city lost the conference.

The Massachusetts Nursing Association had scheduled to run several training programs at the hotel in September, but has moved them to another hotel in Worcester. In addition, the union is moving its 2010 statewide convention from the Crowne Plaza to another Worcester hotel. That three-day conference usually draws 300 to 350 people from around the state.

??We can??t utilize that facility when it is not supporting our fellow worker members,?? said Lynne Starbard, president of the MNA??s Central Massachusetts branch.

The Crowne Plaza would have been one of three or four likely hosts for the Democratic state convention to be held in Worcester next June.

Worcester County Sheriff Guy W. Glodis said he will attempt to convince Democrats not to use the Crowne Plaza for the convention. He said he will pledge not to hold any fundraisers or functions at the hotel ??until this issue is resolved.??

??It just doesn??t make any sense, and it sends the wrong message,?? he said. ??It??s not a union-nonunion issue. It??s an issue of workers, of local people looking for work.??

Neighborhood improvement project Posted by on

The Carpenters Union has joined efforts with neighbors in the community to spruce up the pedestrian cut-through located on the corner of Dorchester Ave. and Howell Street.

A set of stairs were installed in the green area connecting Dorchester Ave to Washburn Street. Members of Piledrivers Local 56 fabricated the treads in the piledrivers shop. The the treads were cut to size, holes were predrilled, and the hardware to hold the treads in place was fabricated at the shop.

RDA Construction donated the greenheart timber used for the stair treads. This eco-friendly timber is used in dock and pier construction. The dense timber won??t rot when placed directly on the ground, as water cannot permeate it.

Other volunteers assembled a pergola in the green area. The douglas fir was donated by the Carpenters Union.

Callahan cries to the press Posted by on

After a Superior Court Judge ruled that Callahan would not be able to proceed with construction of a Hanover high school because they purposely misled the town as to their qualifications, Callahan is trying to play the victim.

If they were so concerned about the taxpayers and students of Hanover, why did they feel the need to mislead them during the prequalification process?

TAGS: Callahan

Shillman House coverage Posted by on

The Boston Globe and Metrowest Daily News both provide coverage of NERCC-led protests at the Shillman House groundbreaking.

Neither delves into the problems associated with Dellbrook or other contractors on the site. Or questions the reported involvement of Ed Fish as a financial backer of son and Dellbrook principle Mike Fish.

Nor do the stories mention that Dellbrook's bid was more than $5 million lower than all union AND nonunion bids, raising questions about how they get to those prices without breaking laws.

Both stories allow for comments to be posted. Members are encouraged to do so.

Callahan, Hanover make news Posted by on

You might think with that much money at stake,when a contractor misled them, Hanover elected officials would be a little more upset with Callahan, rather than ignoring all the warnings and continuing to use them. Wouldn't you?

Shame on Callahan and shame on Hanover

TAGS: Callahan

Miclassification getting publicized in Maine Posted by on

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported on misclassification in the state last week, with both audio and text stories available on their website.

It's interesting how the business community always wants to claim enforcement should take a backseat to education. As if the employers didn't know they were breaking the law already.

Perhaps the contractor association should have started educating it's members some time ago?

Judge tells Hanover: stop Callahan project Posted by on

A judge has issued an injunction in two cases against the Town of Hanover preventing Callahan Construction from continuing work on a $37 million high school. The ruling finds the suits clearly established a reasonable likelihood that Callahan had engaged in fraud in prequalification documents, that the public interest favored issuing an injunction, and that any additional costs to the Town resulting from an injunction "would be the product of the Town's own doing."

Two lawsuits were filed against Hanover—one by an HVAC contractor, the other by ten residents of Hanover. Kirt Fordyce, a retired union carpenter and Business Agent from Local 424, was the lead complainant in the resident suit. The suits were filed after the town awarded the job to Callahan despite their having claimed to have completed work that was done by another company.

The Attorney General’s Office advised Hanover to refrain from awarding the job, pending their review of the bid protest. Hanover ignored that request and awarded the job to Callahan. The town then also ignored a later finding by the Attorney General that Callahan had misled the town during the bid process and allowed the job to continue.

Superior Court Justice Richard Chin noted in his decision that: “Had the Town adhered to the AGO’s (Attorney General’s Office’s) decision and rejected Callahan’s bid, the Town could have availed itself of the bids of other prequalified contractors. By virtue of the bid protests, the AGO’s requests that work on the project be suspended, and the AGO’s ultimate decision, the Town was on notice that it could later be forced to rescind its contract with Callahan. However, it ignored this risk, awarded the contract to Callahan, and gave the contractor permission to commence work on the project. The Town cannot now be permitted to benefit from this ill-advised decision.”

The second and third lowest bidders for the project were union general contractors J&J Construction and Fontaine Brothers, respectively.

TAGS: Callahan

NH 1099 crackdown makes news Posted by on

It took years of lobbying and campaigning to get the State of New Hampshire to recognize and address the problem with employee misclassification, specifically within the construction industry. But through the hard work of union carpenters and NERCC staff, progress was made and those labors are now bearing fruit.

The State of New Hampshire has a comprehensive, multi-agency task force set up to share information and more efficiently pursue businesses who misclassify employees as so-called independent contractors. The result is millions of dollars in lost tax revenue, workers put at risk when they are injured on the job or laid off, and a huge disadvantage to honest contractors who are bidding against cheaters.

The Manchester Union Leader published a story about the efforts of the state in today's paper. Members are encouraged to read the story and weigh in with their thoughts in the comments section immediately following the story. Remember these are public forums, so be direct, but respectful of others. Site editors reserve the right to remove comments they find objectionable.

Interior Paint Colors Posted by on

Painters with H.W. Ellis Painting Company, Inc. have been working in the interior of the building. The following is a selection of Benjamin Moore paint colors being used at the Carpenters Center.

Sugar Cookie                                   Desert Twilight

Light Khaki                                      Nantucket Gray

Thyme                                                Mink

Snow White Eggshell

Rally against Dellbrook, Shawnlee and Turner Brothers Posted by on

Carpenters will be holding a rally on Monday November 23 at 9:30 am at 49 Edmands Road in Framingham to protest the use of three of the more notorious contractors in the region. The 150-unit Shillman House will be built by Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly with $2.9 million dollars in stimulus money. Those public dollars will be turned over to general contractor Dellbrook, woodframe contractor Shawnlee and Turner Brothers Concrete, all of which have been hired.

Any and all members are encouraged to attend the rally, which will include members of SEIU Local 615, the Jewish Labor Committee and Jobs with Justice. For more information, contact Charlie Ryan of Carpenters Local 475 at 508-486-0040.

Happy Birthday, Carpenters Local 40! Posted by on

The Cambridge-based Local Union was born 90 years ago today!!

Mass construction job numbers Posted by on

Quincy Patriot Ledger Business Editor Jon Chesto tweets a link to a state release on jobs.

The bad news has reversed, but not in any meaningful way. From the release...

Construction gained 100 jobs in October, this sector's first monthly gain since February. At 108,400, Construction employment is down 22,100 or a 16.9 percent rate of job loss over the year.

As a NH subcontractor working on the Stowe project... Posted by on

As a NH subcontractor working on the Stowe project, it seems that I wouldn't have a job today without AIG. At least AIG is out there stimulating the economy! I am certainly glad my tax dollars are finally benefiting ME and my family. Too bad my NH Congressman, Paul Hodes, is touting his vote of "No" for TARP. Now is see that it is working and I am that proof.

Barr, Inc. embarasses Conn. Posted by on

Two states down, four to go?

The bad news about Barr, Inc. is spreading like wildfire. Earlier this year they were the subject of a Fox 25 Boston piece about contractors who do a poor job, but negotiate their way into good grades in the review process. A state investigation that included review of five failing grades on public projects led to the company being debarred from bidding public work in Massachusetts.

Now Barr, Inc. is showing the Connecticut Department of Transportation the problems they can bring to an awarding authority.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation had full knowledge of the fact that Barr, Inc was debarred in Massachusetts. In fact, the company is also under investigation in Connecticut for violating prevailing wage laws on another public project. Still, the DOT moved forward with awarding Barr, Inc. a $1 million project to rebuild a covered walking bridge over the Salmon River. As a result of activity on that project, Barr, Inc. has now been fined for failure to pay proper wages to workers. The events have led to very public and harsh criticism of the Department of Transportation for hiring Barr, Inc. despite their previous problems. Both the Hartford Courant and Connecticut's News Channel 8 featured the story.

"Frankly, this is the height of incompetence," said state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, who arranged a news conference Monday to discuss the contract. "Didn't we learn from the problems we had with the drains on I-84? We've had enough shoddy work in this state."

State Sen. Donald DeFronzo, co-chairman of the legislature's transportation committee, said that although it was "probably technically permissible" to award Barr the contract, "it was, at best, a very risky decision." DeFronzo, a New Britain Democrat, said "the transportation committee is going to look hard at this particular job and ask the department for frequent performance updates."

DeFronzo and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that Barr was a "poster child" for the need to give the commissioners of transportation, labor and administrative services the clear authority to remove or suspend a contractor from the pre-qualification list ?? from which state vendors are drawn ?? when one of them is disqualified in another state.

Please note that Barr, Inc. is a Connecticut-based firm unrelated to union contractor Barr and Barr.

Compare and contrast Posted by on

A popular line thrown out by those looking to denigrate unions is that "they may have had a purpose years ago, but not anymore." They also like to say that there is no difference between union and nonunion construction.

The lie is clear when you look at many aspects of the industry, from training to benefits to safety and working conditions. But all too often a client says they are only concerned about the bottom line. To which the simple answer is: yes, of course.

Consider a common example: a hospital needs to do an addition or renovate existing space. Is the bid price the most important consideration? What about the financial risk of hiring an unqualified or substandard company and the impact that would have on the bottom line of the entire facility, not just the construction project?

Here's where the union advantage trumps a nonunion bid that appears to be a few percent lower: The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has developed a training program for apprentices and journey level workers called "Best Practices in Health-Care Construction in Occupied Facilities." It was developed through a cooperative effort of national leaders in health care, construction management and union training programs.

Once developed, the program was taught to hundreds of UBC Trainers who took the program back to their local areas and held classes with carpenters in the field.

The curriculum, in part, includes teaching "awareness of hazards, including asbestos, lead, mold, silica, and other materials, as well as blood-borne pathogens and other hospital-specific concerns. Trainees learn how to identify and classify work areas to maintain an environment that can minimize risks, illness, and injury. Specialized clothing and equipment are part of the package."

Sure, the program costs money, but because the investment is made on a national level between labor and management partners, it provides a tremendous bang for the buck. Local health care facilities gain piece of mind that not only are union workers earning a decent wage, they're provided decent health care benefits that allow them to get treatment in the very facilities they're building AND they've got the cutting edge skills to ensure health care providers offer the best care during and after the project is complete.

Nonunion contractors may save a few dollars on the bid documents, but lack of training, questionable access to reliable, skilled workers and a "slap dash" approach put projects and health at risk. Consider one contractor hired on several hospital jobs in New England who seems to show little regard for limiting the risk of infection.

It would be interesting to study not only the cost over-runs due to shoddy work but the number of infections reported in the hospital before, during and after the highlighted projects. More educational would be to then compare those numbers to ones from hospitals who used union carpenters that completed the "Best Practices" program developed by the Carpenters Union.

Project Update from the Owner's Rep. Posted by on

NH raises profile of protests against Kal-Vin/GNPB/Northrock Posted by on

"Anybody driving along Route 1 in Portsmouth NH this morning couldn't help notice a large banner being held in front of the new fire station that is under construction. The message on the banner pointed readers to website called anyonebutkalvin so that local tax payers could find out how their taxes are feeding the underground economy. Can this be true? A publicly funded project that the local taxpayers fund, associated with the ?? Underground Economy??? How can this be possible and what exactly does this mean?"

Read the entire story at

First Trade Union Bank releases 3dQ numbers Posted by on

First Trade Union Bank , a full-service bank with offices in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, recently reported earnings for the three months ended September 30, 2009.

First Trade reported net income of $1.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2009, a 137.8% increase over the comparable time period last year. Total interest income was reported at $9.4 million, a 27.6% increase over the comparable time period last year. Net interest income before provision expense of $6.1 million represented a 47.9% increase over the comparable time period last year.

Total operating expenses were reported at $4.0 million for the three months ended September 30, 2009. This represented a 43.6%, or $1.2 million, increase over the comparable time period last year. This increase can be mainly attributed to a one-time FDIC assessment of $350 thousand, an increase in employee salaries and benefits, and increased legal and professional services expenses.

Total assets of $690 million as of September 30, 2009 represented a 29.4%, or $157 million, increase over the comparable time period last year. Total loans and total deposits grew 26.4% and 39.5%, respectively, as of September 30, 2009, when compared to the same time period in 2008. Asset quality remained strong, as the Bank reported annualized net charge-offs of 0.07% for the three months ended September 30, 2009. First Trade continues to remain well-capitalized under all regulatory definitions.

??We are proud of our accomplishments in the third quarter of 2009,?? said Michael A. Butler, First Trade??s President & CEO. ??Our client-focused approach to banking has allowed us to achieve some success despite less than optimal economic conditions.??

About First Trade Union Bank
With assets over $690 million, First Trade Union Bank is a well-capitalized community bank offering a full complement of business and consumer products and services. First Trade has a long-standing reputation for middle market, small business, unions and government entities as its core clients. They have a profound understanding of their role in the business community: to provide a complete offering of products and services that respond to the needs of their clients, delivered in a way that encompasses the highest level of personal service in-person, online, or by phone. First Trade is deep in category experience and committed to providing the attentive service that today's businesses and consumers require. First Trade also offers 24-hour ATM service, telephone banking, and the most advanced technologies in internet banking for consumer and business customers. Customers can readily access traditional, personalized branch banking at their offices in Boston, MA, Warwick, RI and Hauppauge, NY. First Trade maintains its corporate offices in Boston, MA. First Trade is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and is an Equal Housing/Equal Opportunity Lender. For further information call 800-242-0272 or visit the Bank's website at

Video Update Posted by on

Video Update - Second Floor Flooring Posted by on

See the post below for more information.

Floorcoverers work on second floor Posted by on

On the second floor of the building a unique project is ongoing with a crew of floorlayers from Local 2168 working for Allegheny Contract Flooring. The second floor of the building, while flat, was not level, due to the quantity of drains throughout the floor from the laundry facility that used to be housed in the building.

A process called Flooding is being implemented throughout the second floor to level the floor in preparation for flooring installation that will happen in the coming months.

The crew working for Allegheny Contract will see this process through from start to finish. First, the floor is prepped using a diamatic grinder (seen below). A bonding agent primer is painted on the prepped floor. The primer bonds to the existing floor and the new self leveling cement that will be poured on top.

Crews then begin the intricate process of determining the measurements necessary to level the floor. First, they strike a grid chalk line in four or three foot squares, depending on the size of the room. They are given a benchmark, which tells them where the zero mark lies for the elevation of the floor. Orange tabs are placed along the grid system and are later cut to the necessary lengths to reach that zero mark.

Using the leveler (seen below), a reading is given to determine how high up the floor needs to be to reach the zero mark. The worker seen here takes that measurement and writes it on the ground next to the orange tab. Each tab is then cut to the correct height, which will later help determine how much cement needs to be poured over a particular section of the floor.

The pallets of portland-based cement mix can be seen below. On this particular day, Allegheny Contract was working on an 8,000 square foot area that would require around 18 pallets of Portland cement mixture.

The crew works simultaneously to flood the floor. Workers pour cement into the mixer, which then runs through a hose into another room where the floor is flooded.

The floor will be dry enough to walk across within approximately 4 hours. While the floor won??t immediately be able to handle point loads, crews will be able to work in areas where the floor has been poured within 24 hours, as long as they protect the floors and use ladders.

Wow, that is amazing. Good to know the homework w... Posted by on

Wow, that is amazing. Good to know the homework was done beforehand to make sure it complies with the standards.

Carpenters help community remember fallen heroes Posted by on

In September, volunteers from the Carpenters union helped construct the "Moving Wall," a replica of the monument in Washington, D.C. honoring service men and women lost in Vietnam. The effort included several union carpenters that are also military veterans.

Carpenters show support for Coakley Posted by on

Union Carpenters rally for jobs Posted by on

Menino looms large along the Expressway Posted by on

Check out the Boston Globe's coverage on

75%! Posted by on

As of October 31st, construction of the Carpenters Center is 75% complete!