Reply – Re: UNION - CHANGE OR DIE; Waging war against NYC Union Construction Workers?
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Re: UNION - CHANGE OR DIE; Waging war against NYC Union Construction Workers?
— by Olga Aguilar Olga Aguilar
The purpose for this article is to induce a conversation amongst us on how to improve our union and get people involved with the issues that directly affect them.  By educating ourselves, we can be better prepared to fight for our rights.
 
R.O. Walsh started the Advisory Committee meeting by talking about the Regional Plan Association's “Construction Labor Costs in New York City — A Moment of Opportunity,” report:  http://nikit.co/ur 
 
It's Collective Bargaining Season
 
In a report released to the city entitled “Construction Labor Costs in New York City — A Moment of Opportunity,” the Regional Plan Association urged unions to accept reforms that would significantly cut costs at a time when major projects are in jeopardy over rising price tags.  
 
 "RPA wants to see the difference between union and non-union expenditures drop to 10 percent from the current levels, which the organization says are closer to 20-30 percent.”  YET the "report also says that leading developers and contractors are attached to union construction work, in part because “the best union labor continues to surpass nonunion in skills and productivity,” and because the jobs provide “a key channel of upward mobility for millions of Americans.”
 
 “The best union labor continues to surpass nonunion in skills and productivity,” should only be 10% more than non-union?
 
 "The report also called for eight-hour shifts to officially begin when a worker reaches his station, not when he arrives at the ground level, an issue in tall construction sites where many men are using a few hoists to get to the floors where they are working." What do you think about this?  When does the workday start and end?
 
"The report describes as archaic various provisions that unions have succeeded in keeping around, in contracts that were also signed by employers."  If you think this is true, can you named them?
 
If we are talking about cutting waste, efficiency and productivity in order to cut costs, it is a two way street.  Before they commissioned reports to cut labor costs, what are contractors doing on their end to cut costs?  Where are the unions' reports and their 26 bullet point ways to help contractors reduce cost?  Can you name practices done by contractors that are wasteful and unnecessary?

As union workers, we want what is fair compensation for the work that we do.  Before we considered work rules changes and reductions in wages and/or benefits, we should be asking the contractors to open their books.  The massive economy meltdown has hurt everyone.  The changes in lending practices crippled the construction industry.  Everyone has been hurt, but how much? and how much in the future?  Maybe they have opened their books to the Negotiating Committee (McCarron, Spencer & Ballantyne).  Who knows?
 
Other thing that comes to mind: what about projections for the next five years in NYC construction?  One thing that bothers me when it comes to this subject of "improving our union" is the timing.  We are well into the bargaining process (one that rank and file are completely shut out of) and we should be focus and united where we stand in regards to our contract.  Improving our union should take place the second the contracts are signed in order to improve our position for the next collective bargaining season.

I'm interested in seeing how the unions rebutted theses articles.
 
For those that understand the subject much better than I do, what are the factors that affect the our collective bargaining agreements (CBA)?

*Market Share (% of construction market that is union) is it like 12% in NYC?
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What is Featherbedding?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Featherbedding
 

References:

Original CHARLES V. BAGLI article: "Civic Group Says That Concessions Are Needed From the Construction Unions"    http://nikit.co/uf

2nd Ave Sagas article: "With report, RPA wades into looming labor fights"   http://nikit.co/ug

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"Union leaders say that the two primary authors, Julia Vitullo-Martin and Hope Cohen, are former Manhattan Institute conservatives who would prefer to see unions dismantled." they co-wrote the Regional Plan Association's “Construction Labor Costs in New York City — A Moment of Opportunity,”

Regional Plan Association's “Construction Labor Costs in New York City — A Moment of Opportunity,” report:  http://nikit.co/ur 


Today they tagged teamed us on the the Post and Daily news:

* Julia Vitullo-Martin: "Union change or die NYC building trades in crisis"  http://nikit.co/up

* Hope Cohen: "The high price of union construction: Fix work rules or jobs will vanish"  http://nikit.co/uq

Please read articles and leave comments!!!!