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I am a Union women member in the construction indu... Posted by on

I am a Union women member in the construction industry. I am thankful to the union for giving me the chance to work and do what I love to do since 1987 being a women in construction the union was the only one to give me a that chance to do a trade. I took up carpentry 4 years at a trade school.Then went looking for a job and no one would hire a female to do a mans job except the union.They teach train and protect you. Union way to go.

Globe features Erlich piece Posted by on

The Boston Globe today published an opinion piece by Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

Please read and share.

Scapegoats in Wisconsin
Why is the middle class demonized when Wall Street is the problem?

WE ARE in the third winter of the recession; 26 million Americans are out of work, cannot find full-time work, or have given up looking for work, and $11 trillion in household wealth has vanished.

As winter turns to spring, there is an evolving perspective on the crisis, shifting from an attempt to identify the causes to blaming the victims.

Congress is aggressively looking to eliminate regulatory excesses that are presumably hindering economic recovery only weeks after the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, appointed by Congress in 2009, issued a report concluding that the crash was caused by 30 years of deregulation, the stripping of key safeguards, and an overly optimistic reliance on self-regulation by large financial institutions. If the Republican approach were part of a homicide investigation, it would be as if the detectives had removed the smoking guns from the perpetrators?? hands and arrested the corpses.

Wisconsin is only the most dramatic site of a broader strategy of absolving Wall Street and scapegoating public employees and their unions. While there are legitimate and critical public policy issues about education reform, spiraling health costs, and pension liabilities at a time of state and municipal budget deficits, why is the fault laid at the feet of teachers, police, and firefighters? Today??s pension obligations are the product of massive investment losses, not excessively generous public pensions that, in fact, average about $19,000 a year. For that matter, a 2010 Economic Policy Institute study showed that, controlled for educational achievement, public sector workers actually earn less than their private sector counterparts.

With corporate profits at record levels, strong bank balance sheets, along with the return of large compensation packages in the financial sector, the commission??s reminder that the continuing devastation of the crisis was entirely avoidable is worth remembering. It was not the invisible hand of the free market but rather ??the result of human action and inaction,???? a reckless environment in which the five major investment banks had leverage ratios (assets protected by capital) as high as 40 to 1.

For a brief moment after the economy fell off the cliff, the excesses of financial manipulations put broader social and economic questions back on the table. Why, for example, does the United States rank 31st out of the world??s 33 most advanced economies in terms of income inequality, more unequal than Third World countries such as Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela? Why, according to the Census Bureau, has inequality increased by 22 percent, and why have the wealthiest 5 percent expanded their share of total income by 32 percent since 1980? And why, during the same period, has average family income climbed less than 1 percent a year, especially when there are far more two-income earners in most families?

The emergence of an American middle class coincided with the growth of unions, and the rise in inequality has accompanied their decline. The myth of the American dream, of the United States as a meritocracy in which economic opportunity is universally available, has never been more in question. Children from upper income families are now 20 times more likely to have high incomes of their own than children from low income families. Classic rags-to-riches stories are limited to professional athletes, celebrities, and fortunate individuals who manage to beat the odds.

Why does the gulf in economic equality matter? Research has repeatedly shown that negative indicators for health, educational performance, economic mobility, and a broad array of social issues are correlated with income inequality. The more unequal a society, the less likely its citizens will have a stake in pulling in the same direction. A generation ago, non-union workers often welcomed news of improved wages and benefits for unionized employees, recognizing that a rising tide lifts all boats. But today??s waters are murkier. At a time of sacrifice and insecurity, many would prefer to sink their neighbor??s slightly bigger boat while wistfully hoping for a glance at a yacht in a gated marina.

The demonization of public employees is a calculated strategy to steer the political spotlight away from those who brought us the recession. If the focus is not shifted back to the root causes of the crisis, in the words of the commission, it will happen again.

Mark Erlich is executive secretary-treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

TAGS: Economy, Media, Nercc

Construction lending on the rise Posted by on

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports a significant increase in construction lending by major institutions, which is getting stalled projects back underway.

An influx of fresh capital into U.S. commercial real estate is bringing some long-stalled development projects back to life and launching new construction of apartments, office buildings and shopping centers.

The moves show that the industry, in a deep slump just a year ago, has entered recovery mode??at least in the nation's largest and healthiest markets. Analysts say the improved economy is giving rise to pockets of demand for new commercial space, while low yields on other investments prompt investors to seek higher returns in real estate.

The nascent turnaround comes even though many U.S. banks still are slogging through billions of dollars in bad commercial-real-estate loans, a big cause of bank failures. Still, some of the largest U.S. banks are tiptoeing back into commercial real estate.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. financed as much construction lending in the first six weeks of 2011 as the nation's second-largest bank by assets did in all of last year.

Materials costs going up Posted by on

Contractor survey says increase in materials costs may offset financial gains from improvement in industry this year.

2011 Fishing Derby a Success Posted by on

This past weekend, Local 535 sponsored the annual Great New England Carpenters Ice Fishing Derby. The Derby, held at the Norton Reservoir, was cosponsored by the New England Carpenters Labor Management Program, The New England Carpenters Training Center and Bill's Bait and Tackle in Norton.

A single grand prize was awarded for the heaviest fish of any species and the remaining twenty-five percent of the proceeds were donated to Blackstone Valley Technical Education Fund.

This year??s Derby drew 100 fishermen, doubling the participation from last year??s event. Registration began at 4 am and the Derby ended at 2 pm. The entry fee for the event was $20. Nearly half of the participants were members of various Locals from surrounding communities.

The winning 6-pound fish was reeled in by a 10-year old Walpole resident, who participated in the event with his father. He received the $1,473.00 grand prize.

State Senator Jim Timilty awarded the Grand Prize to the Walpole resident and announced the $676 donation to be made to the Blackstone Valley Technical Education Fund.

GOP not united against labor Posted by on

Though conservative efforts to limit or eliminate the activity of unions is underway in several states this year, Republicans in Congress are running into opposition to some of their labor-related efforts from within their own party.

Twice in the last week a significant block of Republicans broke party ranks to support union positions on two significant votes. The first was an amendment to a spending bill that would have prohibited Davis Bacon prevailing wage requirements for any federal projects this year. Forty-eight Republicans in the House of Representatives joined every voting Democrat in opposing the measure, which was soundly defeated 189-233.

Republicans Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta of New Hampshire were the only New England Representatives to support the amendment. Roll Call vote results.

In a clear message to House Speaker John Boehner that he had over-reached, 60 Republican members of the House of Representatives also broke ranks last week to vote with Democrats on a bill amendment regarding funding for the National Labor Relations Board. The amendment would have de-funded the agency, which governs elections for union representation and rules on complaints of unfair labor practices by workers or management. Conservatives have complained that appointments to the Board by President Barack Obama have pushed the body to make more worker-friendly decisions.

Republican Frank Guinta of New Hampshire was the only New England Representative to support the amendment, which was defeated 176-250.

Follow up from Fox 5 in Georgia Posted by on

The Local Fox affiliate in Georgia that ran a piece about illegal immigrants being hired to work on public school projects in that state has run a follow-up. The second piece focuses on a group of more than 50 workers who were not paid for work they performed for a masonry contractor.

I-Team: Hiring Illegal Immigrants Pt. 2:

Some facts to consider in Wisconsin Posted by on

The Nation makes it frighteningly clear that as goes Wisconsin and some other states this year, so could go the labor movement.

It's taken as gospel in conservative circles--and sometimes the public at-large--that public employees make too much money. The common refrain is that "they should be treated more like workers in the private sector." A study by the Economic Policy Institute says that for many public workers, that would mean getting paid more. The study comparing compensation for public employees vs private sector workers in comparable jobs nation-wide is supplemented by state-by-state looks at the facts in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, California and Indiana.

Finally, are public employee pensions bankrupting government and in dire need of reform or elimination? Or have they simply been suffering a temporary setback due to the same stock market troubles that have equally damaged private 401(k)s? The Center for Economic and Policy Research concludes that pension funds may recover with the market and shouldn't' be the source of great panic. You can read their study here.

Here in New England, working people are rallying to support Wisconsin workers. On Tuesday rallies will be held at the State Houses in Massachusetts Rhode Island and Vermont.

Tuesday at 4 pm at the State House in Boston.

Rhode Island
Tuesday at 4:30 pm at the State House in Providence.

Tuesday at noon at the State House in Montpelier.

Rallies are being discussed and planned in other New England states. Details will be sent via the Council Update and posted to as they become available.

Billionaires vs Bake Sales Posted by on

Rachel Maddow makes the case that unions could be the only thing between Republicans and total domination of American politics, hence their current crackdown on public employee unions. That battle is taking place in a very high profile way in Wisconsin.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Lacrosse fan? Posted by on

The Boston Blazers of the National Lacrosse League sent this along today:

The Boston Blazers are excited to announce this season??s ??Union Workers Night?? at the TD Garden on March 6th @ 5:00pm. We would like to offer all Union Workers a discounted ticket rate of $15 each in the loge seating. By purchasing tickets for this night you will have the opportunity to take part in:

?Pre game fan tunnel on the turf
?Take part in a special autograph session with Blazers Superstars (Dan Dawson, Casey Powell, Anthony Cosmo, and Josh Sanderson)
?Pick up a special giveaway prize when you enter the game

For More Information Contact:
Tyler Smith
P: (617) 904-0600 Ext. 120
F: (617) 904-0559
200 Portland Street, Suite 301 Boston, MA 02114

Schools, GCs play "hear no evil, see no evil..." Posted by on

I-Team: Hiring Illegal Immigrants:

A Fox station in Georgia--and Georgia workers--take up some of the same issues NERCC has been working on. In this case it is immigrant workers building public schools without any attempt to verify their status. This is despite laws in Georgia requiring the use of the federal e-verify system.

The workers are not hired by the general contractor or even a subcontractor. They're brought in by a subcontractor to a subcontractor and are each paid as so-called "independent contractors" themselves.

When the reporter confronts the general contractor--the one who celebrates their winning low bid and will brag about the project's completion at the end--they shrug and claim to not know and not be responsible. The subcontractor doesn't respond to requests for information.

So who's responsible for the project and the laws being broken on them in the name of lowering the project cost? Whether it's the employment of undocumented workers or the classification of workers to cheat the government out of revenue and the workers out of basic protections, there are crimes being committed. The victims of the crimes are:
--The people in the industry who play by the rules and, therefore, can't compete.
--Workers who can't get jobs because they won't give up their protections and can't afford to work for what illegal immigrants do.
--Entire communities, which must struggle with budget crisis's exacerbated by cheating employers.

Bad news, good news Posted by on

Banker and Tradesman details the January construction jobs numbers released by the Associated General Contractors and they are not good.

Unemployment in the industry nationwide rose from December to January, to 22.5%, with the loss of 32,000 jobs. The story noted that:

"...the industry's job losses came from the nonresidential construction sector, which lost 35,300 jobs between December and January, while the residential sector added 3,500 jobs. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors were hardest hit, losing 21,000 jobs. Heavy and civil engineering construction lost 7,000 jobs."
On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal has surveyed economists who now think 2011 looks better than previously thought.(subscription required). According to the survey of 51 economists, growth in the 4th quarter gross domestic product is expected to rise by 3.5% compared to last year, up from last month's estimates of 3.3%.

They rate the risk of returning to a recession at 12%, down from 22%.

Clearly this reporter has a biased opinion, but he... Posted by on

Clearly this reporter has a biased opinion, but held off enough to appear "fair & balanced" for her audience. Not so with other "public media" outlets like Mackinaw Center ( and their "guerilla" interview tactics. Our reps should be better trained in how to handle such interviews.

Count the stereotypes Posted by on

Emily Rooney's Greater Boston recently ran a piece on the public perception of unions, followed by a three-person discussion. The conversation quickly turned into a bash session of public employee unions who's only role apparently should be making any and all concessions requested by management. Rooney leads the assault with one negative generalization after another.

The question of why public perception has turned against unions is a good one. Discussions about how unions--including individual union workers--can convince their friends and neighbors of the benefits of unions and collective bargaining are important and should take place. While this piece could have been a thoughtful jumping off point, it largely fails.

TAGS: Unions

Prevailing wage debate heats up in Connecticut Posted by on

The Connecticut Mirror published a story last week about the growing debate between municipalities and labor unions over prevailing wage. Town leaders feel the system imposes unaffordable labor charges, while labor leaders point out the system protects towns from unscrupulous contractors who undercut companies that play by the rules.

Connecticut??s prevailing wage law is gearing up to be one of the more hotly contested topics during the state's 2011 legislative session. Approximately 25 bills related to the prevailing wage statute have been introduced during the session, which began Jan. 5 and will run until June 8.

Currently, communities must pay the prevailing rate on renovation projects costing more than $100,000 and new construction over $400,000. Some argue this threshold should be raised to $500,000 for renovations and $1 million for new construction, while others propose a $1 million floor for all projects.

Glenn Marshall, newly appointed Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor and former Regional Business Manager for Connecticut Locals 24, 43 and 210, is quoted in the article:

??I totally understand in the economic climate we??re in that people want to cut costs, I personally don??t believe it should come off the backs of the workers.??

Marshall points out that the industry has been harmed by the growing underground economy and he fears that raising the threshold for prevailing wage projects could open a new series of projects for unscrupulous contractors to pursue.

The Labor and Public Employees Committee held a public hearing on prevailing wage at the Legislative Office Building in Connecticut. In addition to proposing revisions to the prevailing wage law, municipal leaders also called for the state to revise the binding arbitration mandate. In binding arbitration, when the two sides can??t reach an agreement on a union contract, an arbiter fashions a contract after hearing from both sides.

Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters testified at the hearing in opposition to the suggested changes. He presented data that shows that the notion that repeal of the prevailing wage law would save taxpayers money is overblown. Erlich??s testimony can be read here.

Erlich noted that ??the intent of prevailing wage legislation is to ensure that taxpayers get value for their public construction investment.??

??Weakening the state??s prevailing wage law in any fashion would hurt workers, hurt the painfully slow process of economic recovery, and ultimately lead to unsafe conditions on public projects and the delivery of shoddy construction products subsidized by taxpayer dollars.??

Erlich wrapped up his testimony saying ????If this committee wants to perform a public service by re-evaluating the current status of the prevailing wage law, please do not consider elimination of the statute. Instead, I would urge you to review all sources of public funds that do not currently trigger the use of prevailing wages. Extend the application of this valuable law; don??t remove it.??

To read more about the hearing visit Hartford Courant??s website.

The industry comes together Posted by on

As cities, towns and states continue to feel the pinch from lean budgets, some are getting wise to the fact that cracking down on tax cheats could provide some relief. And businesses are jumping on board with an eye toward maintaining fairness in competition.
leads us to a an article about just such a coalition in California. looks to be a valuable resource for those in the construction industry looking to stay up-to-date on the latest labor-management-owner efforts to promote honesty, fairness and training in the construction industry. Their website lists the following description:

We are owners, contractors and craftspeople who share the mission to advance a socially responsible, sustainable, value added construction industry.

As owners, we value social responsibility and sustainability as strategically important for our projects, for our image in our communities and for the long term success and return on investment of our businesses.

As contractors and subcontractors, we value the competitive advantage and business growth we can gain by supporting a constantly improving and sustainable workforce as a foundation for delivering superior value and quality to our clients.

As craftspeople, we value developing our skills and a long term career path that is rewarding and satisfying and with which we can be productive and respected as members of one of our nation's most vital industries.

Check them out.

Carpenters Local 1996 responds to elimination of task force Posted by on

John Leavitt, Business Manager for Carpenters Local 1996 recently wrote an editorial piece published in Mainebiz regarding the recent Executive Order issued by newly elected Maine Governor Paul LePage eliminating the state??s Task Force on misclassification. The Governor claimed the work the Task Force was doing was ??a bad direction for the state, so we are going to try to reverse that.??

The Task Force was established by an Executive Order in 2009 by then-Governor John Baldacci after studies showed the state was losing as much as $36 million a year in tax revenue due to misclassification. As in other states, the Task Force was given two goals: clarify language regarding employee status and eliminate barriers to information sharing and cooperative enforcement among government agencies. Because misclassification involves issues of workers' compensation, unemployment and taxes, there are usually multiple agencies involved, each with concerns about sharing personal information collected during investigations. Task forces in many states have been effective in finding ways to accommodate those concerns while opening lines of communication and enforcing all of the laws and regulations involved.

Leavitt??s letter was published in the ??Perspectives?? section of Mainebiz, where he points out that ??this new executive order promotes poor business, not good business, and is a major step backward for Maine people.??

You can read the entire letter here.

Westfair contemplates Marshall as Labor Commissioner Posted by on

Ryan Doran wrote for Westfair Online late last week about the appointment of NERCC's Glenn Marshall as Connecticut Labor Commissioner.

TAGS: Connecticut

Dow appointed Regional Manager Posted by on

Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, has appointed David Dow Regional Business Manager for Carpenters Local Unions 26, 111, 275 and 475 in Massachusetts. He takes over the position from Lou Catanzaro, who is retiring from the Brotherhood.

Dow has held multiple positions within the union, starting as a Business Agent for Carpenters Local 218 and including jobs with the Boston District Council, New England Regional Council and the UBC. Before taking the Regional Business Manager??s position he worked for the New England Carpenters Labor Management Program. There he worked on special projects, often building relationships between union contractors and developers.

??While we will miss Louie??s experience and knowledge of the industry, we are lucky to have someone like Dave available to fill the position,?? Erlich said. ??His many years of leadership and work within the union and with developers, owners and politicians throughout his career give him the opportunity to help the Council and the Local Unions in this area move forward in winning work for our members.??

TAGS: Nercc

Helping Hammers on the job in Grove Hall Posted by on

Union carpenter apprentices in Boston are working with Community Labor United to make repairs to Boston homes so that they can qualify for weatherization improvements available through Renew Boston. One of the first homes they have worked on is Betty McGuire's house in Grove Hall. Thanks to the effort, it will soon be one of 150,000 homes Renew Boston hopes to serve in the next ten years.

Local 535 union meeting cancelled Posted by on

Local 535 has cancelled the monthly union meeting that was scheduled for tonight.

TAGS: Local 535

Information on energy assistance for Massachusetts residents Posted by on

Due to a deep and long recession, many members may be dealing with prolonged unemployment that has caused them financial hardship.

Massachusetts residents interested in learning more about fuel and energy assistance available should check out the online brochure "Keeping the Heat and Lights On" from

In addition to the link above, is also a good resource developed by the United Way for people to find help. It is a resource for help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more.