Executive Officer's Forum
Political action = jobs
Bob Alvarado, Executive Officer
If you want to know whether or not political action is important, consider this: the majority of work both now and for the foreseeable future is in public infrastructure.
In a recent survey of our signatory general contractors in the San Francisco Bay area, over 80 percent of their projects were "public works," and, in some cases, it was over 90 percent! You can bet the same numbers apply throughout the region.
Here’s where politics come into play. Whether you’re building a bridge, a treatment plant, a courthouse or a school, voters approved the bonds to pay for the project, and elected officials at the local or state level approved the project and awarded the job to the general contractor.
As we reported last month, in June alone, voters passed more than a billion dollars in new bonds for public projects in the Bay Area. All of this work either is or will be covered under a Project Labor Agreement, ensuring a level playing field for our signatory contractors. Three-quarters of that amount was for school construction, which tends to employ lots of UBC members.
When we talk about how we create work, this is one of the ways we do it. These kinds of projects really highlight the influence of local politics. Remember, it is the locally elected school board members who approve Project Labor Agreements and requirements like local hire standards. It is often those local officials who award contracts; for an illustration of that point, see the article on page 3 about the CIA action in Modesto. We need to work to ensure that the right people get elected to local office, so we can continue to secure work all over our region for union carpenters.
Train early AND often
As important as these efforts are, all the political action in the world won’t uphold our wages and benefits if we don’t continue to be the most productive, highly skilled workers in our industry. All that comes from dedication to our craft-and from training.
In our last contract with our employers, we agreed to provide a journeyman certification process for a number of key skills. The first one was the Bridge Builder certification. Now, when an employer calls the hiring hall, those members who have completed the class will be given preference.
The next certification will be for commercial concrete. Classes have already started, and I encourage you to take advantage of this training. Sometime soon, probably within six months, contractors will be able to call the hall and order certified concrete hands. Don’t be left out- get trained, and get certified and continue to uphold our high standards! Check the schedule in this paper or at www.CTCNC.org, and then contact your local union to sign up for Concrete Formwork Certification.
Meanwhile, I want to encourage those of you who are working to work safe. Summer is a busy season, and everybody is pushing hard to get the work done. In this environment, it is especially important to pay attention to safety. Be aware of hazards; use the appropriate safety gear; and in the hot summer months, be sure to stay hydrated- drink plenty of water.
We want to be efficient and productive, and we also want everybody to go home at night.