The Massachusetts Operational Service Division (OSD) has asked BTEA again to promote the 3 Tradespersons Statewide Contracts. They want to identify union contractors available to bid on some small to mid-size state contracts for trade services required by state facilities.
Interested in this opportunity? If you are, please read over the flyer below!
As you may know, each month brings new opportunities to apply for apprenticeships with different union building trades. Each of the 12 trades has its own timeline and procedure for apprenticeship applications.
The following trade(s) will be accepting applications for apprenticeship training:
WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE ENCOURAGED TO APPLY
*****Please be sure to call the union to confirm these details! ******
Roofers & Waterproofers Union Local 33
When: Every Mon., Tues., and Wed., 9am – 11am
Phone: (781) 341-9192
Local 33: Willie Hernandez
53 Evans Dr.
Stoughton, MA 02072
Must be physically capable of performing work of the trade
Pre-hire physical and drug screen
Must reside within the jurisdictional area
Millwrights Local 1121
When: Monthly – Applications are accepted the 2nd & 3rd Wednesday of each month at 9:30am
Phone: (617) 254- 0042
Address: 90 Braintree St. Allston, MA
Must have a valid Driver’s license
Must be 18 or older
Must have copy of HS Diploma or GED
Must have copy of HS/College transcript
In addition, Suffolk Construction and Wynn Casino are looking for active union members. They can submit an application for employment at the link below.
If you know of someone already in the union, please have them go to our website at www.surveymonkey.com/r/3WJRY66 to submit an application. We will notify unions and subcontractors of their availability. Help spread the word!
Given the increasing focus on safety, you would expect OSHA had a busy year. However, continuing an ongoing trend, OSHA inspections dropped to the lowest level in 20 years. This marks the 4th consecutive year that inspections have fallen.
In the Northeast, inspections of construction contractors have fallen by more than 30% over the last 5 years from about 6,800 to about 4,700 total.
The graph above illustrates the Northeast average compared to the average with its three biggest states. These declines in the Northeast make up about a third of the overall decrease in construction inspections nationwide.
The OSHA budget peaked in 2012, but was down by about 3% in 2016. OSHA has cited budget cuts as causing the decrease in inspections. However they have found citations 5% more often than in 2015. In addition, appeals of OSHA citations were roughly equivalent in 2015 and 2016 at around 9%. BTEA recommends our members always work with our legal safety consultant before settling a case with OSHA.
Donald Trump has selected Andy Puzder to serve as his Secretary of Labor. The CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s is an interesting selection by Trump who had toyed with appointing Victoria Lipnic, the current head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and a former Workforce Policy Counsel to the House.
Puzder is an interesting man, he attended Kent State, but dropped out in 1970 following the Kent State Shootings. In his own words, “I spent the next three years attending concerts and marching on Washington”. After moving to Cleveland he graduated college and got his law degree. As a young corporate lawyer he helped rescue Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr. from financial troubles. Years later, when CKE Restaurants fell into more financial difficulties after purchasing Hardee’s, Puzder was named CEO by the Board and tasked with turning it around.
Mr. Puzder has not been without controversy during his tenure. Franchisees overseen by CKE have been targeted by DOL in the past. Hardee’s Food Systems was found in violation of wage laws and ordered to give back pay to a group of 456 workers in 2006 and 2007. This money was owed for overtime on hourly employees. It is perhaps unsurprising then that Puzder has signaled that he opposes the Obama Overtime Rule which has already been blocked by the courts, and is most likely dead on arrival in a Trump Administration.
In addition, advocates calling for an increase in the Federal Minimum Wage will find Puzder opposes large raises of the minimum wage. $15 per hour will be out of the question because Pudzer opposed the Obama Administration attempt to raise it to $10.10 from the current $7.25. When asked about the effect of raising the minimum wage, Mr. Puzder said it could lead to increased automation because machines are, “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”
The effect of a business executive running the labor department will be interesting to watch. Like Mr. Puzder, the Secretary of Labor has traditionally been a loyal supporter of the president, but unlike Mr. Puzder, most former Secretaries of Labor were career bureaucrats not as well versed in the corporate and financial worlds.
For anyone in our industry, one inescapable topic these days is the question of a labor shortage. The graph below illustrates that employment in construction has not even returned to pre-Recession levels. This would seem to indicate that there cannot be a labor shortage because just 8 years ago there were about 25,000 more New Englanders employed in our industry.
However, shortage proponents would cite the retirement of baby boomers and loss of workers during the downturn as limits to the labor supply. Our guess is that the labor market is still recovering from the Recession and only appears to be limited because of the dramatic surge in the amount of construction underway in our region. The graph below shows that construction contracts are well above the previous high-water mark in 2008 while the workforce is taking longer to recover.
A National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey showed that residential subcontractors feel there is a crisis in finding the skilled workers they want. With housing construction up 10% from 2015, NAHB survey respondents identified shortages of carpenters, bricklayers, framers, painters, electricians, and plumbers. Continue reading “Home Builders Report Labor Shortage”
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has proposed new rules to govern the merger of troubled multi-employer pension plans. The PBGC has authority under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA),
to support mergers if it benefits the failing plan without harming the stronger plan. In addition, PBGC can provide funding to promote a merger if it is needed to help plans avoid insolvency. Mergers help reduce administrative costs and increase pension security.
The MPRA was an attempt by Congress to provide PBGC better tools to deal with the growing issue of pension insolvency. The proposed rule is a logical interpretation of the MPRA giving reasonable options to troubled multiemployer pension plans.
The proposed rule provides guidance for requesting help in a merger. PBGC can provide financial assistance, technical assistance, and mediation. Also, the rule provides an informal avenue for multiemployer plan sponsors to explore merger discussions with the PBGC before filing a formal request. Finally, the proposed rule allows plan sponsors to apply for both benefit suspensions under the MPRA and a merger under the statute. The PBGC realizes that pension insolvency is not a zero-sum endeavor stating, “some plans may need both benefit suspensions and a financial assistance merger to become or remain solvent.”
The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on June 6. The deadline for submitting comments is Aug. 5.
Although the proposed rule is a commonsense step to facilitate pension mergers, many are still in precarious positions. The most prominent in the Central States fund whose emergency rescue plan was denied by the Department of the Treasury on May 6, 2016.
The Treasury Department found several issues with the methods Central States used in notifications to participants and in their proposal to cut benefits and reestablish financial stability. Central States has announced that it will run out of money by 2025. As of the end of last year, the fund showed $16.8 billion in assets and $35 billion in retiree obligations. This is a 48% funding ratio. That’s bad news because the average funding ratio for PBGC multiemployer plans in the construction industry was 44%.
Most experts believe that government action is the only way Central States will avoid bankruptcy. However, given the national political scene this is unlikely, instead they are getting creative to cover the costs. For example, many employers have been exiting the plan due to its predicament. Central States has increase the amount collected in withdrawal liability, the fee an employer pays to exit the plan. Also Central States offers a Hybrid method where employers pay the withdrawal fee and remain in the plan, but are free from incurring any additional liability.