AGC Holds Northwest Regional Meeting with Carpenters and Operating Engineers
AGC held a regional meeting with the National Construction Alliance II (NCAII) on October 2 in Seattle, WA. Members and chapter staff from collective bargaining chapters in the Northwest attended, along with International Union of Operating Engineers General President Vince Giblin, United Brotherhood of Carpenters General President Doug McCarron, Union Contractors Committee Chairman Jim Clemens, AGC Union Contractors Committee Staff Associate Denise Gold, NCAII Executive Vice President Ray Poupore, and other leaders from NCAII, the Operating Engineers, and the Carpenters.
The meeting was AGC's third regional meeting with NCAII. The meetings, which just began in May of this year, are intended to provide AGC chapters with an opportunity to communicate directly with union leaders about contractors' local and regional concerns directly and to engage in a dialogue to solve problems together. NCAII is a partnership of the Carpenters and Operating Engineers internationals. It is the successor to the NCA, which also included the Laborers, until they dropped out of the alliance last year and rejoined the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO (Building Trades).
NCAII recently launched the Northwest NCA Council (NWNCA), NCAII's first regional affiliate. "The NWNCA will work together with our AGC partners in the Northwest to ensure a strong, productive working relationship and a healthy, growing construction industry," Poupore stated. "We believe in a cooperative approach to our common issues facing us and will seek new ways to partner on safety, training, workforce development and political action to name a few. The NWNCA seeks to promote harmonious labor relations that will promote stability and common sense enabling contractors to be successful and our members to earn a good living for themselves and their families. The old model no longer works, it is time for a new approach for a new day."
Other labor leaders at the meeting made similar statements about a "new era" of labor-management cooperation and communication, an era in which the general presidents are "not as hands-off" regarding local issues. As stated in the first two AGC-NCAII regional meetings, the general presidents expressed interest in hearing about significant local problems in a timely manner - even encouraging contractors to call them directly at their DC headquarters. They also spoke of cooperation to help signatory contractors be more competitive on large projects where concessions are needed, citing the second phase of work on the Route 52 causeway in New Jersey as a successful example of such efforts.
NCAII distributed copies of its own Heavy & Highway Construction Project Agreement, explaining that it is essentially the same as the National Heavy and Highway Coalition's agreement, except that it does not require contractors to contribute to the labor-management trust, and explaining that local negotiations are conducted to establish a site-specific addendum for each job. When a contractor expressed concern about the agreement working without other crafts' participation, Poupore said that NCAII will negotiate an agreement that is parallel to the Building Trades' agreement so that terms will be consistent across all crafts on the job.
Participants expressed discontent with owners that adopt the Building Trades' unilateral project labor agreement without giving contractors a chance to negotiate over the terms. They discussed the need for AGC and NCAII to visit owners together in order to give them an alternative option. Similarly, when contractors in Oregon lamented their inability to compete in the current market, given that some contractors desperate for work are cutting costs and underbidding them by violating prevailing wage and workers compensation laws, labor leaders suggested joint visits to county officials and state attorneys general. NWNCA and local contractors should work out a way to lobby together on issues of common interest, they said.
The meeting also included a discussion of other specific, local concerns, such as a contentious dispute between the Operating Engineers and Laborers over representation of concrete pumpers in Washington state and general contractors' need for a carpenter helper classification in Oregon.
The meeting is likely to be the last of its kind in 2009. No further regional meetings are presently scheduled, but they are likely to resume in 2010. If your chapter or region of chapters would like to have such a meeting in your area, please contact Denise Gold, AGC Associate General Counsel, at email@example.com or (703) 837-5326.
Return to Top