AGC and Basic Trades Discuss Health Care Costs and Other Mutual Concerns
AGC met with leaders of the Laborers, Carpenters, Iron Worker, and Operating Engineers on January 25 at AGC’s Capitol Hill office.
Representing AGC at the meeting were President Jim Waltze, Chief Executive Officer Steve Sandherr, Union Contractors Committee Chairman Steve Kimball, Union Contractors Committee Regional Representative Bob Epifano, Executive Leadership Council Representative Bart Carrigan, and Associate General Counsel for Labor and Employment Law Denise Gold. Representing the trades were Laborers General President Terry O’Sullivan, Carpenters General President Doug McCarron, Iron Workers General President Joe Hunt, and Operating Engineers 11th Vice President Chris Hanley.
Health care cost containment led the agenda of mutual concerns addressed at the meeting. Participants discussed various ideas for the unionized sector of the industry to manage escalating health care costs. The group decided to initially focus joint efforts on health care coalitions and established a task force to investigate successful coalitions in the industry. Health care coalitions are purchasing cooperatives formed by multiple health funds to combine their buying power in order to purchase better health benefits at lower costs than available to the funds individually.
The group also discussed union relationships, including the likelihood of union consolidation and of the Carpenters’ re-affiliation with the AFL-CIO. The general presidents reported that consolidation in the form of formal union mergers is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future but that inter-union alliances are likely to become more prevalent. They further suggested that AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is likely to order the Building and Construction Trades Department to expel the Carpenters for failure to rejoin the federation during the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council Meeting, which takes place March 1-3. McCarron expressed his belief that such an action would have little consequence on job sites. Other general presidents in attendance indicated greater concern about possible jurisdictional disputes that might result but expressed their understanding of the importance of the need to avoid work disruptions.
Other issues covered in the meeting include drug testing, the Construction Users Round Table (CURT) Tripartite Initiative, and joint lobbying efforts on infrastructure funding and multiemployer pension issues.
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