Governor Deval Patrick is forwarding an email from Local 56 Business Representative Dave Borrus to thousands of Massachusetts residents. The topic? Training Local 56 is offering commercial divers in a that was funded by a grant from the Patrick administration. It has previously been featured by the UBC's website.
Borrus' email includes a slide show and audio of Borrus and fellow members of Local 56 telling the story of the tank and how the training program for it developed. It is embedded below.
Local 56 started using the 7,000 gallon tank in September of 2008. Construction was made possible through two $80,000 grants from the state, grants which had been stalled under the previous administration.
"Governor Patrick restored funding that provide the means by which we had this tank constructed. He understood this was training money. These were individual grants to grow the economy," Borrus says. "This is one small one. This is the seed that grew into millions and millions of dollars of jobs."
Borrus reports that since the tank training began, contractors using union divers have won 9 contracts that have produced 54,000 work hours and generated more than $4 million in wages and benefits.
"These paychecks that would've gone to other states are here, being spent locally," Borrus said. "Those tax dollars on those wages earned are coming back into Massachusetts. These funds that made this tank construction possible were vetoed by the previous administration."
BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office has reached an agreement with a Pennsylvania based engineering and utility infrastructure contractor to settle allegations they failed to pay 54 employees the proper state prevailing wage. Henkels & McCoy, Inc., of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, has agreed to pay $145,000 in restitution as well as $15,000 in penalties to the Commonwealth as a result of the violations.
Stop us if you've heard this one before. The Christian Science Monitor has run a story saying that American workers are creating more wealth through productivity, but getting a far smaller share of the wealth they create.
American labor isn't getting its full share of the nation's output.
Indeed, its share is at a "record low," says Charles McMillion, chief economist at MBG Information Services, a Washington consulting firm. "Labor has no leverage." So wages have been "depressed, stagnant, or falling" for some 30 years.
Much of that lost compensation went to business and its owners. Last year, for example, businesses raised workers' hourly pay a little (2.2 percent) but cut their hours a lot (5.1 percent). The result? The remaining workforce became considerably more productive, creating more goods and services per hour worked.
Ideally, business and labor would share about equally in productivity gains. Over the past three decades, though, business has reaped the bigger share. For every dollar of goods and services the United States produced in 1974, all employees reaped about 59 cents. Last year, their share had fallen to 55 cents. In a $14 trillion economy, that amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars in lost wages every year.
Tax notes Posted by
on February 23, 2010 at 12:00 AM
For those members who collected unemployment benefits in 2009, the first $2400 of benefits is now tax-deductible on their federal return. Previously, unemployment benefits were taxed from the first dollar.
In addition, members can deduct the value of union dues—both monthly local union dues as well as the hourly work assessment—as in the past.
On Sunday the Washington Post ran a piece by Alex MacGillis about the condition of the labor movement as popularly portrayed in the media. The story highlighted what he calls the five biggest myths. It is well worth the read for those who find themselves frustrated by union opponents who are long on hot air and anger but low on facts and perspective.
All UBC Councils can help the Brotherhood celebrate its nearly 130-year legacy of strength and progress during the 40th General Convention in August by contributing antique tools for an exhibit of union artifacts and archival material.
We expect to assemble a collection of tools, documents, and other items to help tell the Brotherhood’s proud story. Besides tools, we also are seeking other appropriate materials such as—but not limited to—photographs, convention memorabilia, and pins.
The deadline for submissions is May 1.
For more information, contact Robert Welch at email@example.com.
Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich was recently interviewed by MassINC (Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth), a nonpartisan think tank of which the Carpenters Union was a founding member and sponsor 14 years ago. Erlich currently sits on the Board of Directors for MassINC.
In the piece, Erlich speaks about changing economies, the changing culture among business leaders and the way the labor movement has reacted, or failed to react. You can read it by clicking here.
By Tom Iacobucci Changes to how credit card fees are assessed will save American consumers billions of dollars by ending unfair and deceptive practices.
Just two of these practices – retroactive rate increases and ‘hair-trigger’ penalty interest rates – were costing U.S. consumers a minimum of $10 billion per year,” according to a new study released by the Pew Trust’s Safe Credit Cards project.
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (CARD) was approved in 2009 by the Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Obama. The law is being implemented in three phases.
The initial changes were implemented in the summer of 2009:
Cardholders now have a 45 day advance notice of any interest rate increase (or other significant change) or the right to close the account if they do not agree to certain changes in terms.
Monthly statements must be mailed 21 days before a payment is due.
But the most substantial changes take effect this month, including:
Credit card companies cannot increase your rate for the first 12 months after you open an account, except in the following circumstances:
If there is an introductory rate, it must be in place for at least 6 months; after that your rate can revert to the "go-to" rate the company disclosed when you got the card.
If you are more than 60 days late in paying your bill, your rate can go up.
If you are in a workout agreement and you don't make your payments as agreed, your rate can go up.
If your card has a variable interest rate tied to an index; your rate can go up whenever the index goes up.
If your credit card company does raise your interest rate after the first year, the new rate will apply only to new charges you make. If you have a balance, your old interest rate will apply to that balance.
Card issuers must apply payments to higher-interest balances, before applying them to lower-interest balances.
Credit card statements will now include information on how long it will take you to pay off your balance if you only make minimum payments. It will also tell you how much you would need to pay each month in order to pay off your balance in three years.
Cardholders charged a penalty Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will be able to return to the regular, non-penalty rate by making the first six months of payments on time after the penalty is imposed.
Due dates must be the same day every month.
Card issuers cannot charge more than 25 percent of the available credit in up-front fees on subprime cards. This restriction does not include penalty fees.
Applicants under age 21 must have a co-signer or provide proof of ability to repay before they can be issued a card.
The third and final stage of new consumer credit card protections will take effect in August 2010. Among those changes:
Gift cards will no longer expire in less than five years and will be subject to inactivity fees only if they have not been used for more than 12 months.
The amount of any penalty fee or charge imposed for violating a credit card account agreement (e.g., late payment fee) must be “reasonable and proportional” to the violation.
If a creditor increases a rate based on the credit risk of the consumer, market conditions, or “other factors,” the creditor must:
maintain reasonable methodologies for assessing those factors;
review any account on which a rate has been increased since Jan. 1, 2009 not less frequently than every 6 months to assess whether the factors have changed; and if the review indicates that a reduction is warranted, reduce the rate.
With this new law, consumers will have the strong and reliable protections they deserve. We will continue to press for reform that is built on transparency, accountability, and mutual responsibility – values fundamental to the new foundation we seek to build for our economy," said President Obama after signing the law. To learn more about these credit card changes, go to www.federalreserve.gov/creditcard.
About Tom Tom Iacobucci is a Vice President for Institutional Banking and the Union Affinity Program Manager with First Trade Union Bank. This spring he will be teaching a Personal Finance Class at the Labor Guild School of Industrial Relations titled: “Manage your money or it will manage you! Things you should know about personal finance”. For more information about the course visit The Labor Guild. First Trade is an FDIC Member and an Equal Housing / Equal Opportunity Lender.
The law, similar to one in San Francisco and ones being considered in Los Angeles and New Orleans, was pushed for by the Florida Immigration Coalition, a group comprised of labor and immigrant advocacy groups.
The NYTimes' Steve Greenhouse sums up the problem, what's being done by some states and what the Obama administration is preparing to do about it. Nice piece to share.
Companies that pass off employees as independent contractors avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those workers. Companies do not withhold income taxes from contractors’ paychecks, and several studies have indicated that, on average, misclassified independent workers do not report 30 percent of their income.
One federal study concluded that employers illegally passed off 3.4 million regular workers as contractors, while the Labor Department estimates that up to 30 percent of companies misclassify employees. Ohio’s attorney general estimates that his state has 92,500 misclassified workers, which has cost the state up to $35 million a year in unemployment insurance taxes, up to $103 million in workers’ compensation premiums and up to $223 million in income tax revenue.
“It’s a very significant problem,” said the attorney general, Richard Cordray. “Misclassification is bad for business, government and labor. Law-abiding businesses are in many ways the biggest fans of increased enforcement. Misclassifying can mean a 20 or 30 percent cost difference per worker.”
The Obama administration plans to expand investigations by hiring 100 more enforcement personnel. The I.R.S. has begun auditing 6,000 companies to see whether they are in compliance with the law.
The administration also plans to rewrite a three-decade-old I.R.S. rule that lets companies indefinitely classify employees as independent contractors — even when the government knows they are misclassified — so long as the company once had a reasonable belief that the workers were contractors.
There are hundreds of soccer referees, many under the age of 18 who are forced to pay self-employment taxes due to this mis-classification. They end up paying a higher % of taxes than their peers who make equivalent money as W2 employees.
The unemployment system was designed to provide a safety net to Americans who were out of work. But with both the Federal and State government involved, basic goals of the program are undermined. Workers are discouraged from taking short-term, lower pay jobs lest their benefits get reduced.
After nearly a year without work, Gary LaPlante was happy to take a three-week construction job. What he didn’t know was that the job would cost him more than two-thirds of his benefits when he went back on unemployment.
LaPlante, a union carpenter, is among thousands of unemployed in Massachusetts and across the nation who are discovering an unexpected kink in the system that can mean drastic cuts in their unemployment benefits.
The Public Building Commission and the Town Council in Cheshire, Connecticut are giving extra consideration to their selection of a general contractor for a pool project. Organizers with the New England Regional council of Carpenters recently shared information with the Building Commission about project problems on previous KBE jobs. KBE is one of the finalists for the job.
Duties: The Wage and Hour Investigator I (functional) reviews and investigates violations of labor standards under M.G.L. Chapter 149 and other related regulations and statutes; conducts interviews concerning complaints of wage violations; writes reports; responds to inquiries from employees, employers, and their representatives regarding applicable laws, codes, rules and regulations; conducts site visits; testifies at civil and criminal hearings and before the Grand Jury; and supports the enforcement of wage, hour, child labor and prevailing wage and other related work as required. Inspectors (Investigators) also conduct payroll audits and analyze financial records.
Qualifications: Applicants must have at least (A) two years of full-time, or equivalent part-time, professional or technical experience in inspection or investigatory work or in the regulation or enforcement of wage and hour laws, or (B) any equivalent combination of the required experience and applicable substitutions. Possession of a current and valid Massachusetts Class 3 Motor Vehicle Operator’s license is required.
SUBSTITUTIONS: I. An Associate’s degree with a major in a related discipline may be substituted for one year of the required experience. II. A bachelor’s degree with a major in a related discipline may be substituted for the required experience.
Preferred Qualifications: Professional or technical experience and investigatory work in labor standards is preferred. Law enforcement or construction and trade experience also preferred. Computer and auditing skills preferred. Spanish or Brazilian-Portuguese language skills are also preferred.
How To Apply: Apply by submitting cover letter,and resume and to: Sandra L. Macdonald, Recruitment & Hiring Coordinator Office of the Attorney General Human Resource Management Office One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor Boston, MA 02108
All workers at a natural gas power plant that was rocked by an explosion Sunday have been accounted for, the Middletown Office of the Mayor said Monday. Twenty Union Carpenters in Connecticut were among those working at the site of the gas power plant under construction in Middletown where an explosion killed five workers and injured at least 12 on Sunday.
Local 24 Business Manager Chuck Appleby said carpenters were working on site for United Anco, the scaffold contractor on the job who employed approximately 90 carpenters on two shifts. Roughly 30 carpenters were on site Sunday morning, approximately 10 were sent home around 9:30 AM. The twenty remaining carpenters were working at site with 3 crews comprised of 12 carpenters working in the plant at the time of the explosion.
All twelve carpenters who were in the plant received medical attention. All twelve sustained injuries- some more serious than others. Several are still receiving treatment including outpatient and physical therapy. One carpenter remains hospitalized.
The cause of the incident, which hit a Kleen Energy Systems LLC plant under construction in a sparse industrial area at 11:25 AM Sunday, remains uncertain. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, a federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents, said Monday it was sending a seven- person team to investigate the blast.
“This is a very tragic accident,” said Appleby. “We are deeply involved in the investigation and are working with law enforcement, the Connecticut State Police, OSHA, the Chemical Safety Board as well as O&G and United Anco.”
Appleby went on to say, “we appreciate the calls and ask that people respect the privacy of those involved. In time the stories will come out. As president of Local 24, I am extremely proud of the heroic acts that were performed by our members.”
“We mourn our brothers in the building trades and will continue to assist our members and their families.”
The 620-megawatt plant was due to come online in the fall; construction began in June 2008. The project, situated along the Connecticut River, was supposed to supply energy to 500,000 residents.
NERCC Executive-Secretary Mark Erlich commented on the tragic accident: “As it happened there was a Connecticut staff meeting scheduled on Monday. The reality of the explosion dominated the room and served as a reminder of the dangers of our industry. Our hearts go out to the 5 families who lost someone in the Middletown plant. While there were no fatalities suffered by our members, the physical and emotional scars will last a lifetime."
To learn more about the victims of the Middletown Explosion click here.
First Trade Union Bank will open a Business Solutions Center on the second floor of the Carpenters Center. The new banking center will officially open its doors for business on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010. The bank will be open five days a week, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM ET on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and will be open from 9:30 to 5:30 PM ET on Thursdays.
The banking center is designed to provide a wide range of financial services. Union officials and contractors are invited to stop by to discuss business banking needs, from checking accounts and cash management to the full portfolio of lending products, which includes SBA programs. From checking and savings accounts to mortgages and Online Banking, First Trade can also meet all of your personal banking needs. The Bank provides customized products and programs for union members so make sure to stop by to learn more.
A full-service ATM will be located next to the Bank and a computer kiosk inside will allow First Trade customers to do their banking online at ftub.com during business hours.
The banking center will be staffed with a full-time, experienced banking professional to assist with all business and personal banking needs. Other banking professionals will be available by appointment.
Local 24 Business Manager Chuck Appleby said that 20 union carpenters had been working on the site and have all been accounted for, though several are suffering from various levels of injuries.
The explosion occurred about 11:30am Sunday morning and could be felt up to 20 miles from the site. The nearest residences are a mile away and officials are saying there is no ongoing public safety threat. The Kleen Power plant was reported to be in a testing phase when the accident occurred and the incident is not being investigated as a terrorist act, but the cause of the explosion is not yet known. Construction on the plant had started in 2008 and the 620 megawatt plant was scheduled to come online this fall.
Enforcement efforts to clamp down on misclassification and tax cheating assisted by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters have hit hard this week. One company operator has been sentenced to jail time while a second faces significant time himself after a guilty plea.
Gerald Poulin, a notorious operator of several drywall companies in New England, has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 for tax evasion.
Poulin operated Jerry Construction, Dipat Construction Inc, and Kel-Rick Construction Management, which primarily did drywall work from a common address in Hudson, New Hampshire. According to information published in the Nashua Telegraph:
From around Jan. 1, 2002, through July 31, 2004, when the companies were under Poulin’s control, the companies paid a number of employees in cash and did not withhold federal income or FICA taxes, Kacavas said. Under Poulin’s direction, the companies also filed fraudulent Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Returns with the Internal Revenue Service that “substantially underestimated” the wages paid to employees, Kacavas said.
The fraudulent practices shorted the federal government by about $950,000, Kacavas said.
Meanwhile Richard Taylor, of Goffstown, New Hampshire will be sentenced in June for charges of tax evasion for failing to report cash wages and withhold taxes from employees of RH Taylor Drywall. He has been put on probation pending sentencing, which could include up to five years of federal prison time and $250,000 in fines. Taylor yesterday admitted to paying most of his employees in cash in 2004 and not properly withholding taxes. It is estimated that more than $109,000 in owed taxes were never paid to the government as a result of his action.
Vice President Joe Biden will administer the oath of office to Senator-elect Scott Brown today in Washington, D.C. where the former state senator will serve out the remaining 24 months of the term.
After his recent interview with Barbara Walters and a follow-up by government workers, it appears he's still got a lot to learn about where wasteful spending exists and where it doesn't.
Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post wrote today about a dust-up Brown caused when he pushed aside facts in favor of some tough talk on ABC, saying: "We need to put a freeze on federal hires and federal raises because, as you know, federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts."
The trouble is, as made clear by Colleen M. Kelley, it's not even close to being true. Kelley is the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers.
Fifty one percent of federal employees have a college degree and 20 percent hold either a Master’s or professional degree, or a doctorate, according to government statistics.
"The federal government hires lawyers to tackle corruption, security professionals to monitor our borders, doctors to care for our injured veterans, and world-class scientists to combat deadly diseases such as cancer," President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget said. "Because of these vital needs, the federal government hires a relatively highly educated workforce, resulting in higher average pay."
But what bothers Kelley and other union leaders even more is that individual job-by-job comparisons suggest federal employees are underpaid by 26 percent compared with their private sector counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"It is clear that a great many federal employees who could make more money -- and quite possibly, much more money -- in the private sector choose public service instead," Kelley said. "I hope as you become more familiar with the efforts of the men and women of the federal workforce, you will begin to see the direct connection between their day-to-day contributions to our nation and the well-being of the American public they serve so diligently."
Last week furniture was delivered and assembled on the third floor of the building. NERCC staff moved from the previously leased space in South Boston in to the third floor over this past weekend. Additionally, staff from Piledrivers Local 56, Shop and Millmen Local 51, and Woodframe Local 723 have also moved their offices to the third floor.
Third room conference room. Notice the view through the transparent LED sign.
Furniture assembly and move-in for office staff of the Boston Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund on the second floor will begin next week.
US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday toured Cape Cod beaches and took a Coast Guard tour of Nantucket Sound as part of his decision making process on the Cape Wind project. After nine years of jumping through hoops thrown up by project opponents, project developers have been told the Obama administration is interested in making a final determination on the fate of the project by April.
In addition to supplying 75% of Cape Cod's power needs without creating any smog, nuclear waste or ancillary political disputes over drilling or mining, Cape Wind will create a badly needed resource: jobs.