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 American Institute of Architects is confidently projecting strong growth in nonresidential construction this year and next, with increase of 5% in 2013 and 7.2% in 2014. Commercial construction is expected to lead the way in growth, followed by industrial work, while institutional construction will grow at a slower pace. The AIA is basing its predictions on a comparison of its own "Architecture Billings Index" with forecasts from six different industry groups. The consistency in forecasts leads them to believe they will be very reliable.
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
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.
Members in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine last night voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement negotiated with contractors working in the three Northern New England states. More than 88% of members voting cast a ballot to accept the three-year agreement, which will provide a $3.90 increase in the total wage and benefit package.
The financial increase is proportionally equivalent to those negotiated in other new agreements throughout the New England Regional Council of Carpenters this year. They will cover anticipated increases in benefit costs over the next three years.
Each year of the agreement $1.30 will be added to the total package, with increases coming in October and April. An immediate increase of $0.65, will be added to hourly pension contributions and $0.02 will be added to wages. The remaining $0.63 from the first and year will be added to hourly health benefit contributions on April 1, 2010. The increases of $1.30 in the second and third year will be divided and allocated by members at a future date.
The agreement also includes language to cover tide work and offshore work, clearly defining shifts, wage and overtime requirements and working conditions for those areas of work.
They're aware of the misclassification problem within state government, but they seem resigned to being able to do little about it. Vermont News Guy writes a considered piece on his blog about the issue.
The practice - scorned as "1099ing," by construction union officials (for the Internal Revenue Service form that freelance workers fill out) -short-changes Worker Compensation, Unemployment Insurance and Social Security funds. It also "creates an unlevel playing field," in the words of Vermont Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden. Businesses that play by the rules can be underbid by their competitors who do not.
Powden said that before adding more enforcement officers, the state should streamline its laws, which now include "no fewer than three definitions" of how to distinguish between employees and independent contractors, so that "it can be very confusing for small business to know which way (it is) supposed to go."
With her boss, Gov. Jim Douglas, intent on cutting the state work-force, Powden could hardly support adding more workers to her own department. Bouchard of the Carpenters Union said Powden was too concerned with being considered "anti-business" if her department cracked down on labor law violators. But Powden said one step she favored was increasing the fines that companies in violation now pay.
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