Executive Officer's Forum
Taking action in tough times
Bob Alvarado, Executive Officer
Despite the rough economy, this month brings some good news with the largest-ever increase to wages in our contract. This planned increase will become part of the published prevailing wage. Given that much of the market is public work this year, we will keep a level playing field for our employers and protect our standard of living. At the same time, we must recognize that we have an obligation every day to earn that money, by producing value on the job.
Let me tell you about some of the steps we’re taking to make the best of a challenging environment. Despite the budget crisis in Sacramento, we are seeing a number of smaller public projects come along. As a result, we started the “5/25 project” to secure work for union members. Originally targeted to projects from $5 to $25 million, it has expanded down to include much smaller projects.
Union representatives are tracking these projects, and making sure that we have union contractors bidding every job. We are attending pre-bid meetings and checking bid lists for non-union bidders. We put those bidders on notice that we will be checking the jobs, and ensuring compliance with the laws governing prevailing wages and workers comp, and so on. Thanks to hard work by field representatives throughout the Council, these efforts continue to win jobs for union contractors and put members back to work.
With the help of rank-and-file members of the Carpenters in Action (CIA) packing public hearings, we have continued to lock up work by signing project labor agreements before the jobs even go to bid. With our most recent victory at Hayward Unified School District, we have seen over a billion dollars worth of PLAs on school work alone.
Members of the CIA have also been working the picket lines as part of our aggressive organizing efforts. In this tough economy, we are redoubling our efforts to win work for union carpenters. We have seen win after win, signing new contractors and securing commitments to use union labor.
Although things are at an impasse in Sacramento, important legislation is moving forward in Washington, D.C. Over the past couple of years, we took important steps to protect our Health & Welfare and Pension funds for the long haul. Now we are closely monitoring health care reform and changes to the pension laws, and giving input where appropriate.
I am optimistic that we will see changes for the better in both areas. As these bills become law, we will re-evaluate our benefit plans, so we can continue to ensure the long-term stability of our benefits.
Take your future in your own hands
There is no doubt we are in rough waters. Too many of our members are out of work. Our employers are facing challenging times, and many of them are continuing to cut back. The economy is uncertain, and no one seems to know when we can expect a recovery. But we will not take this lying down. Together, we must work hard to win every job we can, and ensure that our union is poised to grow when that recovery comes.
If you have already stepped up to help, I thank you. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to get involved, and take your future in your own hands. Take a class, and hone your skills. Join the CIA, and help us win work for union members. We will always be stronger when we stand together, and fight as one.