AGC Delivers Union Contractor Concerns to New Basic Trades Group
Representatives of AGC’s Union Contractors Committee (UCC) met with representatives of the National Construction Alliance (NCA) and its member unions at the Laborers’ headquarters on August 3. AGC participants included Bob Epifano, Mike Timura, Bob Fritz, Tom Holsman, and Denise Gold. NCA participants included Ray Poupore, Steve Roots, Jim Van Dyke, Rocco Davis, and Mike Capelli.
The NCA officially launched on May 2 as the self-proclaimed “basic trades building trades.” It assumed responsibility for administering the collective bargaining agreements of the National Heavy & Highway Alliance but has a much broader focus, covering all work of the basic trades in the industrial, commercial and building sectors, along with heavy highway work. Member unions include the Laborers, Carpenters, and Operating Engineers unions, each of which has disaffiliated from the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the AFL-CIO. The Iron Workers and Bricklayers remain affiliated with the Heavy & Highway Division and with the BCTD.
The meeting was called in follow-up to a February 1 meeting with the general presidents of those and other basic trade unions. The general presidents there expressed a willingness to learn more about the problems that union contractors face at the local level and to utilize the NCA as a conduit for such information. Each of the three NCA general presidents appointed a high-level executive assistant to attend the August 3 meeting “with the authority to listen, investigate and advise.”
AGC raised a number of concerns, such as nonstandard work rules, lack of portability, diminished productivity, and inefficient project labor agreements. Foremost was the concern that the progressive and “customer-friendly” messages heard by the general presidents in recent years are not “penetrating” at the local level. Contractors conveyed experiences with antiquated, impractical, and overly aggressive union tactics in certain areas and the impact on union contractor marketability. They also spoke of the need for NCA-affiliated unions to act in greater cooperation with one another at the local level. NCA and its unions were urged to do more to communicate with district councils and locals, as well as to educate owners at the local level. Participants also discussed problems with the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades, which have “over-bargained” to the point that union general contractors can no longer afford to hire them in many areas.
Mr. Poupore, executive vice president of NCA, advised that the NCA has established a national administrative committee to manage problems that cannot be addressed at the local level. Moreover, he encouraged AGC chapter executives to contact him directly with any local problems that may arise, as well as with any requests to speak at chapter events. He stressed that the NCA does not want to upset local bargaining or agreements, but to “add a layer of labor-management cooperation.” Mr. Poupore can be reached by telephone at (202) 347-1660. For more information about the NCA, visit www.ncabuild.org.
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