North America’s Building Trades Unions Succeeds in Beating Back 3 Anti-Prevailing Wage Amendments

09/11/2017 – 3:47pm

As the U.S. House of Representatives was voting last week on appropriations bills to keep the federal government running, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) attempted to amend every piece of legislation to undo Davis-Bacon protections that ensure fair prevailing wages are paid on publicly funded construction projects.

Fortunately, King’s efforts to cut wages have been unsuccessful. Every Democratic member and 54 Republicans voted “no,” on all three of King’s amendments. Each vote on King’s three amendments failed 173-240, with 54 Republicans siding with all Democrats in voting “no.” Every member of the Massachusetts delegation voted “no” in support of fair wages for America’s building trades workers.

Prevailing wage standards are a minimum wage for skilled construction work on publicly funded projects – including bridges, roads, water projects, tunnels, pipelines, municipal buildings, courthouses, schools and libraries. It is a market determination based on government surveys of the average pay rate (wages, fringe benefits, training contributions) for each construction craft in a geographic area. These standards are intended not only promote a level playing field for local businesses, but to support the training programs needed to prepare local workers for careers in the skilled crafts.

Research consistently shows that prevailing wage standards lead to better economic and industry outcomes – including more local jobs, less poverty, and safer, more efficient and productive worksites – with no significant impact on total project costs.

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Setting the Record Straight on the Davis-Bacon Act

Sean McGarvey, Contributor
President – North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU)
06/21/2017 09:01 am ET

Once upon a time, conservative columnists like George Will could have been counted upon to offer thoughtful, reasoned and, most importantly, well-researched analysis on public policy issues.

Sadly, that academic approach to public policy debate has seemingly been forsaken, and Mr. Will’s recent column lambasting the federal Davis-Bacon Act as an inherently racist law is a case in point.

Furthermore, his unconscionable choice to elevate Rep. Steve King (R-IA) as an arbiter of intelligence on this issue, when the combative and isolated Congressman has proven himself over and over to be stunningly offensive, morally repugnant, disingenuous and completely fact-free when it comes to the issue of prevailing wage laws, is disappointing.

As a matter of historical record, Sen. James J. Davis (R-PA), Rep. Robert L. Bacon (R-NY) and countless others supported the enactment of the Davis-Bacon Act precisely because it would give protection to all workers, regardless of race or ethnicity.

The overwhelming legislative intent of the Act was clear: all construction workers, including minorities, are to be protected from abusive industry practices. Mandating the payment of local, “prevailing” wages on federally-funded construction projects not only stabilized local wage rates and labor standards for local wage earners and local contractors, but also prevented migratory contracting practices which treated African-American workers as exploitable indentured servants.

But rather than taking the time to understand the actual workings and characteristics of the U.S. construction industry as it exists today, along with the original intent of the Davis-Bacon Act which has evolved over the years to occupy an important role in preventing the erosion of community wage and benefit standards for minority workers, Mr. Will embraced an indolent approach that simply mimicked the talking points provided to him by the special interest groups who are leading the charge to repeal this important law.

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NABTU Apprenticeship Programs Seen as Model for Expansion

North America’s Building Trades Unions
14 Jun, 2017, 09:16 ET

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following statement was released today in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement of planned initiatives designed to increase apprenticeship education and training across the US economy:

“We commend the Administration for elevating and promoting the power of apprenticeship programs for workers and whole industries. As the preeminent organization involved in apprenticeship readiness and apprenticeship education and training today, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), its affiliated unions, and its contractor partners appreciate efforts by the Federal Government to increase utilization of apprenticeship education.

“Among construction apprentices in the US today, 75 percent are trained in the joint apprentice training committee (JATC) system, which the Building Trades operate in cooperation with their contractor partners. We know from over 100 years of experience that robust, labor-management commitment to and investment in craft training ensures the necessary and portable skills for workers to meet specific demands of employers and entire industries, while also providing the means for individuals and communities to gain a foothold on the ladder to the middle class. Coupled with increased investments in infrastructure, apprenticeship can unleash broad, sustainable growth throughout the country while also allowing for career pathways for long underserved communities and those looking to embark on safe, highly skilled, productive and rewarding careers in the construction industry.

“In the Building Trades, these apprenticeship career pathways have been fully developed through articulation agreements and other relationships with US colleges and universities. All Building Trades apprenticeship programs, for example, have been assessed for higher education credit. In fact, NABTU considers apprenticeship training ‘the other four-year degree.’ If the Building Trades training system, which includes both apprentice-level and journeyman-level training, was a degree granting college or university, it would be the largest degree granting college or university in the United States – over 5 times larger than Arizona State University. In fact, NABTU’s training infrastructure is rivaled only by the US military in terms of the quality and depth of skills training.

“US Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta framed it correctly when he observed, ‘if you look into the Building Trades, there’s almost a billion [dollars] that’s spent every year, and that’s all private sector money. The Building Trades have put together labor management organizations that jointly invest in these apprenticeship programs because they know both on the labor side and the management side that a skilled workforce is critical to the Building Trades. And that’s how it’s worked for a number of years.’

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U.S. Economy, contractors, and American workers benefit from PLAs

04/24/17 04:30 PM EDT


Chuck Goodrich, the Chair of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), recently slammed Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for not, as he proclaimed, creating “equal opportunity for the entire construction industry.”

Oh, the irony.

Because at the heart of all PLAs is the concept of “opportunity” – for workers, contractors, businesses, whole communities and, yes, taxpayers.
This theme of “opportunity” was central when nearly 3,000 members of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) just convened in our nation’s capital to discuss topline policy priorities, including – and especially – the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure and the need to ensure strong community wage and benefit standards for hard-working Americans

Today, NABTU and its signatory contractors invest more than $1.2 billion annually to fund and operate over 1,600 joint labor-management training centers across the U.S. which, in turn, produce the safest, most highly-skilled, and productive craft workers found anywhere in the world.

Further, NABTU leads the construction industry in innovative workforce development by providing increased opportunities to underserved communities and diversifying the construction workforce through the use of apprenticeship readiness programs and formal apprenticeship training and education.

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