October 20, 2018

Proposed Linn County PLA Runs Counter to the Spirit of Iowa’s Right to Work Law

The Linn County Board of Supervisors are giving serious consideration to a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the reconstruction of the Linn County Administrative Office Building.  For those of you new to the concept of a PLA, it is a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between a construction project owner (Linn County) and labor unions and in order for contractors wanting work on the public project, they must first sign onto the collective bargaining agreement / PLA document.  In doing so, the contractor agrees staff the project as if it were a union contractor.  

We believe that any action which requires an open shop worker to go through the union hall to work on the project and thus subjects that worker to the union’s system of placement priority effectively denies that person a job is not in the spirit of the right to work law.  Moreover, under the terms of the proposed Linn County PLA, a merit-shop contractor is forced to submit a list of "core employees" eligible to do work on the project.  This core employee formula is a sliding scale that mandates that, for example, a 50 person paint crew must be filled with at least 39 referrals from the union hall, and that only 11 of the contractor's current work force.

AGC Urges Members to Contact Senators to Support S. 1005

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff have indicated that S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2009, will not come up for a vote before for the full Senate until legislators return from the August recess in September.

S.1005 authorizes $39.191 billion for EPA water infrastructure programs over the next five years, including: $20 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program and $14.7 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program. Annual dollars authorized for EPA SRF Programs are detailed in the chart below.

SRF 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Total

Clean Water

$3.2b $3.2b $3.6b $4b $6b $20b
Drinking Water $1.5b $2b $2b $3.2b $6b $14.7b

Save Money by Good H.R. Policies & Training

In a busy company, it is often hard to figure out how to work in training. It often is just as hard to convince profit driven owners and managers as to the value of training when weighed against time off and the cost. 

There are a lot of reasons to train production or field people. The obvious one is to improve production and improve safety. The OSHA talks, the job site meetings, the toolbox talks are all part of a well run company. These hit the bottom line quickly and everyone in the company can benefit from a safety culture.

National Water Trust Fund Legislation Introduced

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to establish a Water Trust Fund. The “Water Protection and Reinvestment Act,” H.R.3202, establishes a $10 billion annual fund for repairing America’s corroded pipes and overburdened sewer systems, which pose serious health, environmental and security consequences. The Associated General Contractors of America’s public affairs staff has provided a summary of the legislation.  To view more information, please CLICK HERE.

Health Care Legislation Could Restrict Job Creation

President Obama continues to push his campaign promises to enact comprehensive health care reform legislation. He has outlined an aggressive timeline with both houses of congress passing legislation before August and then using the August recess to reconcile the bills. Obama’s ultimate goals is to have a bill sign on his desk by October.  Despite the complexity of passing the major overhaul of health reform legislation the democratic leadership in congress is working toward keeping the timeline in tact.

Kris for Sr. Vice President 2010

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) is approaching history as Kris Young works her way through the officer positions at the National Association. Kris will make history when she is elected as the first woman President of the AGCA at the 2011 National Convention. Currently, Kris serves as a national officer on the Executive Committee in the position of Vice President. Traditionally, the Senior Vice President has advanced to the office of President, and the Vice President has advanced to the office of Senior Vice President. That said, it is still important that Iowa give a strong show of support to Kris and fill out and return the ballot form for Kris from the National AGCA that all AGC/MBI members will receive in the coming weeks.

The 2007 AIA-201 General Conditions - Be Aware

The American Institute of Architects has discontinued the 1997 A-201 General Conditions documents for use effective May 31, 2009. This means that the new A-201-2007 edition will likely be seen more frequently in the future. It is showing up in public projects on a spotty basis right now. You will recall that this document has serious controversy associated with it, as it was denied the traditional endorsement by The National AGCA and a cadre of other national trade associations. The MBI followed the leadership of the National AGCA and other trade associations in the non endorsement of the new A-201 because of the several new liabilities the document contains over the previous (1997) General Conditions document.

Integrated New Safety Services Through the Construction Essentials Program Series.

The Construction Essentials program has created a new avenue for MBI members to receive important and updated safety information. This information will assist in the implementation of best safety practices for your company. The program also provides direct contact with your MBI safety professionals for any other safety issues that you might need.

The program is a short and efficient, scheduled between 11:30 – 1:00.  The Construction Essentials program is being brought to a location near you for your convenience. Attendees can include project managers, superintendents, and safety personnel. 

Missouri Law Restricts Iowa Workers on Public Projects

The State of Missouri has a rarely implemented statute (Sections 290.550 through 290.580 RSMo) that states only Missouri laborers and laborers from nonrestrictive states are allowed by law to be employed on Missouri’s public works projects when the unemployment rate exceeds 5% for two consecutive months.  This restriction has been in effect since October of 2007.

Due to the interpretation of Iowa Code Chapter 73, section 3, Iowa is deemed a restrictive state in the views of the Missouri statute (Iowa is being listed as one of 21 restrictive states under this Missouri statute).  This particular Iowa Code section states that a public entity, “shall give preference to Iowa labor in the construction or building of any public improvement or works, and every contract entered into by any such commission, board, committee, office or other governing body of the state for the construction or building of any public improvement or works shall contain a provision requiring that preference shall be given to Iowa domestic labor in the constructing of building of such public improvement or works.”  

The Drug Testing Decision

In Iowa we try to think the drug problems are in the big cities, but we have to face the facts. Drug use is a problem that transcends into our work force. The cost of ignoring these facts can be high. Drug use costs employers because of increased absenteeism, decreased production, increased job injuries and increased job training because of turnover. You also need to concern yourself with liability for ignoring the drug problem, which leads to damage to others in the work force. What more do you need to start an aggressive program to rid your company of these problems?

Steps to Take When OSHA Comes Knocking on Your Door

Lately we have been discussing changes in the way Iowa OSHA will be randomly selecting jobsite according to the zip code of projects. The next question is what happens when they do show up and what are my rights?


When an OSHA inspector first shows up greet them cordially, you are setting the tone for the inspection in the first few minutes.  Ask him/her to be seated in the job trailer while you contact management and any sub contractors you have onsite, so they are not strolling around the premises while everyone is arriving.  You should also at this time ask to see the inspector’s credentials.  If management is not available at the time of inspection you may ask to reschedule the inspection.  It is debatable if this is a good ideal or not.  Some could say you’re trying to hide issues, and OSHA does have the option to obtain a warrant that will let them on your site immediately. 

Congressional Support for Card Check Wanes as MBI and AGC Continue Opposition to the (So-Called) Employee Free Choice Act

The debate on card check has heated up and changed direction.  Most recently, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) announced her opposition to the Card Check bill and said she would vote against even considering the bill in the Senate.  Lincoln joined Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) in opposition to the legislation, and coupled with Sen. Arlen Specter's (R-Penn.) announcement that he will not support Card Check, proponents of the bill are 4 votes shy of what they need to advance it in the Senate.   Some union Card Check supporters acknowledge their setbacks and are now talking about considering "significant labor law reforms." Card Check supporters in Congress continue to push the bill and have yet to consider any other option.
MBI and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) remain fully opposed to Card Check and considers work towards a compromise as a "Trojan horse" that would likely be used to advance the full Card Check bill during Senate consideration.  Also, the business community remains united in opposition to the legislation.

US EPA Offers Record Funding for Clean Diesel Initiatives

AGC chapters compete for grant money to support contractors’ retrofit projects.

Over the next few weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will complete its process of awarding approximately $156 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding via its National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program (a competitive grant program) to “eligible entities” like MBI and other state Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) chapters to help construction companies and other diesel users reduce emissions from their fleets, as well as to promote economic recovery and preserve/create jobs.  EPA will hold another diesel retrofit grant competition later this year; however, the exact timeframe and dollar amount is still under internal Agency discussion.

MBI-PAC Fundraiser Honoring Six Legislative Leaders is a Huge Success

On June 10th, the MBI-PAC sponsored a fundraising at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines honoring six Iowa House members for the work they did for Iowa’s construction industry this past legislative session.   Our industry was challenged like no time before this past legislative session and through some very difficult times, these six individuals hung together to the benefit of Iowa’s construction industry.  Their individual efforts helped defeat state mandated wages and benefits on public projects; contractor prequalification / disqualification on public projects; employee choice of doctor for workers’ compensation claims; and a multitude of other bad for business bills that would have adversely impacted Iowa’s construction industry.

MBI Receives National Recognition for Diversity Program

In 2007, Master Builders of Iowa partnered with the Des Moines Construction Council, to offer multicultural workforce development services. The underlying concept of the training is to affect the work environment with cross cultural education that would sustain the inflow of craft workers into the building trades. Through an Iowa IDOT grant, and between 2003 and 2006, Iowa State researchers evaluated the effects of multicultural craft education on state and federal road projects. The IDOT results indicated that this inclusive method for training reduced turnover rates and increased productivity. Both factors were due to the increase in the level of communication of multicultural crews and enhanced teamwork.