Building Trades President McGarvey Shares Views and Priorities at AGC Convention
North America’s Building Trade Unions (the Building Trades) “will work with whoever will work with us,” said its president Sean McGarvey during a session at AGC of America’s Annual Convention on March 19 in San Juan, PR. “We’re not about political parties. We’re about [construction workers]…Both parties have changed, and we have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. That’s our approach,” he said.
The comments were made in the context of McGarvey sharing his perspective on last year’s battle for multiemployer pension reform. With cooperation between AGC and the Building Trades stronger than ever, we were able to accomplish critical legislative changes in a very challenging political environment, he noted. We’re also working shoulder-to-shoulder to advance the gas tax and infrastructure funding but are not likely to get very far in the near future, according to McGarvey. He sees success more likely under the next Administration and is encouraged to see that expected presidential candidates from both parties already have infrastructure investment as part of their platforms.
McGarvey also spoke of political battles at the state level, where initiatives to enact right-to-work laws and to repeal prevailing wage laws have been gaining momentum. He expressed confidence that organized labor will successfully block those initiatives. He reported that union numbers have actually gone up in Indiana since the state enacted right-to-work legislation in 2012, conceding, though, that much of that growth is attributable to replacement of workers lost to the industry during the recession.
On the topic of labor supply and training, McGarvey talked about his focus on recruiting minorities, women, and veterans into the industry, particularly in major metropolitan areas. He cited the Building Pathways pre-apprenticeship program in Boston as an example. The Building Trades and employers sponsor 1600 training facilities across the U.S. and 300 in Canada, reported McGarvey, at a cost of over $1 million a year. “We have a phenomenal training infrastructure, but we’re terrible at marketing it,” he said. At the beginning of his remarks he showed the audience a new video created by the Building Trades that showcases this training. He also shared that he regularly meets with CEOs in the oil, gas, and nuclear industries – big construction owners particularly for maintenance work – to discuss their needs and concerns.
The session was presented by AGC’s Union Contractors Committee and facilitated by Chairman Vic DiGeronimo, Jr.
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