Bryan Bouchard, who serves as Business Manger of Local 1996 in Vermont, Regional Manager for Northern New England and a member of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters Executive Board has announced his retirement, effective March 11. Bouchard is a 36-year member of the UBC.
Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich is appointing John Leavitt to fill Bouchard's unexpired term on the Executive Board as well as his role as Regional Manager for Northern New England.
"Bryan served the members on staff for the Carpenters Union for 26 years," Erlich said. "He has been a quiet but effective leader who always carried himself with dignity and integrity. He will be sorely missed by his members and the Council. We wish him a long and happy retirement."
The 5th Annual New England Carpenters Ice Fishing Derby will be held Sunday, February 17 from 7am-2pm at Singletary Lake in Millbury, Massachusetts.
Organizer Joe Broderick will be set up at 5am at the lake, which can be accessed by West Main Street in Millbury. Look for a banner with the carpenters emblem by the boat ramp. There is a $20 fee to enter. Twenty-five percent of proceeds will be donated to the Valley Tech Educational Fund
Power augers will not be allowed before 7am and no tickets will be sold after 9am. Awards and a shore drawing will be held at the boat ramp at 2pm. Prizes will be awarded to the heaviest fish of any species, with 40% of proceeds going to the winner, 25% to 2nd place and 10% to 3rd place. Ties will be broken by fish length. All fish must be brought in alive.
For questions, please call Joe Broderick of Local 535 at 781-983-1383.
On January 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti, devastating an already impoverished nation. With much of the country's medical infrastructure destroyed, plans that were in place to build a 110-bed community hospital had to be revamped. The Ministry of Health, along with Partners In Health, launched a far more ambitious plan to build a 320-bed state-of-the-art teaching hospital in Mirebalais, which is located thirty-five miles north of Port-au-Prince in the Central Plateau.
Haiti's building industry, however, was simply unable to meet the needs of the new building design. Massive donations of time, materials and skills would be needed for the project to succeed. Union carpenters and contractors stepped up to the challenge to help secure materials and volunteer their time and labor to help build the hospital while teaching Haitian workers valuable craft skills
To learn more, check out the piece NERCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich wrote for Commonwealth magazine about this amazing project following a trip to Haiti in 2012.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 New England Regional Council Scholarship Program. Last year 148 students applied and a total of $50,000 was awarded, including the top prize scholarship of $5,000.
To be considered for an award, a completed application package must be received by 5:00 pm on April 12, 2013.
Please review the Eligibility and Guidelines for the program before completing the application. Applicants will be required to write an essay of between 500 and 1000 words on the following topic:
What impact does “Right to Work” legislation have on labor unions, economic development and the standard of living in a state that adopt the law?
To eliminate bias, the scholarship committee is blind to the identity of the applicant. Essays are numerically coded to prevent any reader from having knowledge of the writer. Winners of the top two prizes will be asked to read their essays at the June 2013 delegate meeting. Persons awarded first or second place in a prior year are ineligible for first or second place in subsequent years.
Misclassification has been a serious problem in the construction industry for years, and something against which the Carpenters union has led the fight locally, regionally and nationally. Union efforts resulted first in greater understanding and awareness among elected officials and now regularly lead to enforcement and publicity on the issue that is either directly a result of union action or an indirect result of efforts initiated by the union.
Two items broke this week that reinforce that point. In Worcester, Telegram and Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane wrote about efforts by NERCC Organizer Manny Gines to chase down employers who cheat by misclassifying workers as independent contractors or cheat them out of their wages.
McFarlane's column ties into an announcement earlier in the week by the Executive Office of Labor in Massachusetts that more they had found more than 2,300 workers misclassified by just three employers. Though the three companies were not involved in the construction industry, the eye-popping $11 million in unreported wages and millions of dollars the state should have received for unemployment insurance payments generated new stories that put the issue in front of the general public.
John Leavitt, the Business Agent for Local 1996 in Portland hit the airwaves this week to promote the union and help a disk jockey fill time as he stays on the air for four consecutive days. The Mark-a-thon is an annual event held by WCYY's Mark Curdo to raise money for the Center for Grieving Children. CYY is one of the radio stations on which NERCC and the New England Carpenters Labor Management Program place ads to promote the union and industry standards. They also carry radio broadcasts of New England Patriots games, on which the union advertises. Leavitt was on air with Mark on Tuesday afternoon at 3pm.
Yesterday was a good day for union carpenters across New England. Amazingly, all of the Council’s endorsed candidates won election. Obama swept the six states, including winning swing-state New Hampshire by a larger-than-expected margin. In the critical races -- Warren in Massachusetts, Murphy in Connecticut, Hassan/Kuster/Shea-Porter in New Hampshire, King in Maine, Cicilline in Rhode Island – our picks were all winners!!
There is no doubt in my mind that some of the credit for these outcomes belongs to all of you and our members. We worked as hard as we ever have in an election season. We used all the tools available to us – new and old techniques – to educate and mobilize our members. And they responded. Door knocking, phone banks, rallies, visibilities, robo-dials, tele-Town Halls. We had a good story to tell…and we told it well and often.
But it’s important to keep a clear-eyed perspective on where we stand the morning after Election Day 2012. In many ways, we “held serve”. We helped fend off the right wing Republican assault on the middle class. There should be a clear message to the nation’s anti-union forces that their philosophy is not welcome, that the voters do not buy an agenda that favors the wealthy over working families. Yet we still have a divided Congress; we still have a Republican Party that attacks unions. We have some new articulate champions but we also have some old foes. Paul Ryan is still chair of the House Budget Committee and there are no signs yet that the House leadership is prepared to move forward in terms of solving our country’s problems as opposed to scoring political points.
So, as much as all of us deserve to take a deep breath and feel a justified sense of pride in our efforts, we will need to remain vigilant. The economy will not fix itself; it will require more federal and state action to invest in jobs and people. And it will require our continued involvement. Our members need to work; that’s why we endorsed the candidates who understood that the best social program is a job.
Thank you all for your efforts these past weeks and months. It was worth it. Congratulations.
New England Regional Council of Carpenters
In recognition of Earth Day 2012 the New England Carpenters Training Fund is sponsoring a FREE electronics Recycling on Monday, April 23, 2012 at the New England Carpenters Training Center (NECTC), 13 Holman Rd, Millbury, MA 01527.
Items may be dropped off between the hours of 7:00 AM and 2:30 PM (any day this week or on Monday, April 23).
Please call the NECTC at 508-792-5443 to let them know if you will participating so they have an idea of when you will arrive and the items you will be bringing.
Information sessions are being held for members who would like to learn more about degree programs available through the union at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Two sessions are scheduled in the coming weeks.
Saturday, April 21 at 10AM: 750 Dorchester Ave., Boston, MA
Saturday, May 5 at 9 AM: 13 Holman Rd., Millbury, MA
Learn more general information about the program by clicking here.
While we love the convenience and immediacy of sharing news and information through the “Council Update” and on NERCC.org and social media platforms, we know not every carpenter is active online. So the New England Regional Council is committed to continuing to produce the New England Carpenter magazine and deliver it to every member’s home.
The latest issue of New England Carpenter magazine has rolled through the presses up in Salem, Massachusetts at Deschamps Printing. You’ll notice some changes in this issue, including some new design elements and more (and bigger) pictures of union members and union projects!
We’re featuring a cluster of stories about member involvement in area standards demonstrations and introducing the Union Participation Program, which will plug active members into ongoing union efforts to protect standards and win more work opportunities.
PORTLAND — Two dozen volunteers descended on the Children's Museum and Theater of Maine on Thursday. They went to work weeding flower beds, freshening the paint on a scaled-down pirate ship, applying finish to picnic tables and dismantling the aging Taj Mahal clubhouse.
"We have plenty of stuff for them to do," said Matt Chamberlain, a member of the museum's exhibits and operations staff.
The volunteers were among more than 1,000 people from various companies and organizations who turned out for the United Way of Greater Portland's 18th annual Day of Caring.
After gathering for a kickoff breakfast at Back Cove, the volunteers fanned out to 90 projects at 60 nonprofit organizations. They did chores ranging from yard work to public relations consulting to painting. And yes, they did windows.
Day of Caring was a small event when it started in the early 1990s, with only about 10 projects, said Suzanne McCormick, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Portland.
"Over the years," she said, "the nonprofits have come to depend on this day for their capital improvements," and the event has grown.
At a playground for PROP's child care program, several men from Local 1996 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters took apart an old play structure. The agency has wanted to do the job for several years, but every year something more pressing has come up, said Kevin Dean, who supervises PROP's child and family services field staff.
"It's pretty simple for us," said Dana Goldsmith, the local's training coordinator for northern New England. "At the onset, we didn't know what we were going to be facing. A few of us brought our own tools."
About 70 volunteers helped the Salvation Army sort food that had been collected by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
When the volunteers arrived at the warehouse, they found mail totes containing 50,000 pounds of food, said Capt. Penny Shaffer of the Salvation Army in Portland. The volunteers worked in assembly-line fashion, sorting and boxing the donated food.
"People are coming with a willing spirit to do whatever needs to be done," Shaffer said.
After most of the volunteers had finished, three teens from Long Creek Youth Development Center were still loading boxes -- marked for categories like "BEANS," "MAC & CHEESE," "BAKING" and "SAUCE" -- into a trailer attached to a pickup truck.
"I just asked who wanted to go. Today's our first time here," said Jeff Bachelder, juvenile program manager for the unit, which is geared toward boys who are nearing release and includes regular community service activities.
In the museum's back yard, L.L. Bean human resources employees shared their adventures of the morning.
Heidi Baughman, a department coordinator, revamped the museum's birthday room with light yellow and turquoise paint.
"We're having a blast today," she said.
Tim Wachtl, an interviewer, helped to take down the Taj Mahal. The volunteers took off the foam dome and knocked off pieces with sledgehammers.
"We found out we're not men of steel," he said.
The influx of volunteers at the museum meant that its backyard -- a difficult spot to maintain because of its exposure to the elements -- would get some dramatic improvements quickly, said Chamberlain, the staff member.
Normally, the three members of the exhibit and operations staff would have to chip away at such a project, sometimes with help from one or two volunteers. But by lunchtime Thursday, Chamberlain was optimistic that the work would be finished in time for a members party on the deck in the evening.
"Whenever we get a group like this, it's really a big help," he said.
Vermont Public Radio broadcast a story Tuesday about the problems the Stowe Mountain Lodge is facing as the state Department of Labor investigates the misclassification of workers building a new luxury year-round retreat.
Union carpenters, including Council Representative Matt Durocher, are heard speaking in the piece as they banner and talk to visitors. They have been trying to raise awareness of the business practices of Kal-Vin Construction, who is performing drywall work. Pizzigalli Construction is the General Contractor on the project.
Kal-Vin, out of Hudson, New Hampshire, operates under several different names, that seem to share a common interest in misclassifying workers to lower their cost. Unfortunately, the scheme puts workers at risk and gives them an unfair--and illegal--advantage against honest union and nonunion contractors.
Union Carpenters were given a public pat on the back last week for work they're doing with area residents to winterize their homes. A woman who was the recipient of the good will effort wrote to the Portland Press Herald to give an enthusiastic thanks.
The Manchester Union-Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper that has generally stuck to its very conservative roots even as the politics of the state become gradually more moderate to liberal, printed a two-story feature in it’s Sunday edition about the dark side of the construction industry in the state.
The stories center around Juan Garcia Hernandez, a "jefe" NERCC Organizers also knew as Juan Garcia. Hernandez supplied immigrant drywall workers for several projects in the region, including projects financed by the federal government through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He was also arrested by state and federal agents on Easter weekend in New Hampshire’s biggest drug bust when he and some others were caught with 100 pounds of cocaine, worth approximately $4 million.
NERCC Organizers have been talking to employees working for Hernandez and other jefes for a long time, finding low wages promised, though sometimes unpaid. Without a concerted Federal effort to limit illegal immigration, several years ago the union decided it would be better served talking to immigrant workers and helping them fight for decent treatment.
The stories highlight how and why things have gotten so bad in the industry. Hutter Construction, who was the general contractor where Hernandez was subcontracted for drywall work, claimed they didn’t know a thing about Hernandez. Though their website brags about their skills as a company that can manage all aspects of a project including "supervision," "job records and reports," and "establish boundaries and benchmarks," they tried to run from any involvement with Hernandez in the story:
"The actual contract was with Granite State Drywall," said Chad Gibson, Hutter's project manager, adding that he was unaware Hernandez was involved in the project. "It would be very hard for us to police three tiers down the line who is hiring them," Gibson said. "It's somewhat beyond our control."
[emphasis added] The two stories can be read online here and here. The Manchester Union-Leader, like many news sites, allows readers to post comments about a story. Reader comments may appear beneath the story with a form for submitting more comments. Members are encouraged to use this feature and express their feelings about stories they read online concerning union and construction issues. Remember these are public forums, so be direct, but respectful of others. Site editors do reserve the right to remove comments they find objectionable.
A rare bit of good news has come in for former employees of Wood Structures in Saco, Maine. US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced today that the Department of Labor is providing a grant of more than $600,000 for displacement services.
The State of Maine will administer the grant, which may provide "individual career counseling, skills assessment, and basic and occupational skills training," according to the DOL press release.
Bob Burleigh, an Industrial Representative serving Northern New England for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters said: "After two months of nothing but bad news, it is great to have something positive to tell the members affected by the plant shutdown and the bankruptcy. This grant will help these laid off workers get the training and other help that they may need to get back on their feet."
Wood Structures, a 40-year old company who's trusses and raw lumber have been used throughout New England and New York struggled with the collapse of the housing market. They attempted to reorganize their debt through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, but were forced to lay off the final 50 or so union carpenters in mid-March. They are likely looking at Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which involves liquidation of the company's assets.
Wood Structures, Inc. the Saco, Maine based yard that sold raw lumber and manufactured trusses and other materials for lumber yards throughout New England, has closed and will be liquidated through Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.
Wood Structures has been struggling for some time as the housing sector steadily declined. The company, more than 40 years old has had multiple owners, according to news reports. The current owner was listed as Roark Capital Group of Atlanta, GA. The final 50 or so employees, who were members of Carpenters Local 1996, were laid off on Monday.
Employees who belong to Local 1996 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters will be owed a week's pay for every year of service, said Bob Burleigh, the union's industrial representative. Severance and vacation pay will be among the issues the union will seek for workers during bankruptcy proceedings.
Union workers earned wages ranging from approximately $15 to $25 an hour and received benefits, including health care, a retirement plan and paid vacation.
"They were very good jobs," Burleigh said.
In addition to being a well known name to lumber yards and contractors in the region, Wood Structures was a familiar site to any New Englanders travelling to Maine. Its property sat right alongside Route 95, with its yard and materials in full site of passersby.