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December 11, 2018

Progressing Safety

MBI’s strategic planning for safety and other initiatives depend upon data and survey feedback from our members. The most recent member safety survey tells us that we still have lots of work to do, as national statistics verify. Even though construction has about 8% of U.S. workers, it still represents 22% of the fatalities - the largest number of fatalities reported for any of the industry sectors (NIOSH, 2008).  Hispanics constitute one of the largest growing demographics in the industry as well as a disproportionate number of accidents and deaths.

 As part of our safety strategic plan process, the Association conducted a person to person (during the past regional meetings) and web survey to the wider membership. This survey included 59 general contractors (GCs), 16 subcontractors (Subs), and 6 suppliers. This survey intended –amongst other things – to evaluate where MBI can be most effective in improving member performance and promoting safe work environments to the construction industry.

Slicing Up the Public Sector Pie

Iowa is fortunate to have a healthy portion of public funding being invested into infrastructure projects.  For instance, the statewide penny for schools (which MBI worked closely with the Iowa Association of School Board in its passage) offers a tremendous amount of funding for school construction.  Likewise, federal and state sponsored stimulus packages are able to lessen the impacts of a slow private sector economy.   By no means are we talking a boon in the Iowa construction industry, but public sector funds are helping to ease the current pain.

Work on “Cap and Trade” Bill Continues Behind the Scenes

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) have done a great job tracking the developments surrounding the “cap and trade” bill – HR 2454.  With the debate on healthcare seizing the headlines, work still continues behind the scenes on HR 2454 to try to reach consensus on major environmental reforms.  The proverbial “guard” should not be let down on this one.

The AGC has compiled a comprehensive summary of each title of the bill.  The most recent summary is on Title IV (Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy).  CLICK HERE to read more and view summaries of Titles I though III.

 

 

Problem Specification …Can’t do arbitrary prequalification on public projects in Iowa

We have been alerted to a specification for a public school project that required the successful bidder to possess ten years of experience in order to qualify to receive the award for the particular scope of work, in this case masonry. This requirement and all others that call for arbitrary prequalification are not legal under Iowa law. The arbitrary nature of this proposal raises serious questions about what or who the owner may have been trying to eliminate from the bid process.

Chapter Diversity Award

The AGC of America Diversity Award Program has been developed to reward AGC chapters that develop and promote diversity programs. The goal of the award is to communicate that AGC chapters support and are promoting the development of small, minority and women-owned businesses, and that AGC seeks to increase their participation in the industry and the association. Monetary awards are designed to assist chapters in developing diversity programs to promote diversity in the construction industry, and to assist diverse companies in expanding their business.

Surveillance and Photographing

In many situations contractors take pictures of or observe pickets for the purpose of developing evidence to use with the NLRB or in courts to enforce their legal rights. Picketing at a double gate system has been the typical venue for such action. Unions on some occasions have taken the position that taking such photographs is a violation of the NLRB. Their position is that such action intimidates employees in the rightful exercise of their NLRB protected rights.

What's in the “Cap and Trade” Bill?

When the US Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, the US Senate will resume work on H.R. 2454, the infamous “Cap and Trade” bill.  If you recall, this bill passed the US House by the narrow margin of 219-212.

Central to H.R. 2454 is a cap and trade program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities, oil companies and other sources.  The bill also supports the development of clean energy technologies and infrastructure and promotes energy efficiency in buildings, transportation and appliances.  Among many other things, the bill would trigger emissions standards for stationary sources that are not covered by the cap and trade program, emissions standards for a variety of vehicle types (including new heavy duty trucks and other types of non-road vehicles and engines) and requirements for state and local transportation planners to better link transportation and land-use decisions.

Another Government Takeover in the Offering?

Linn County Board May Mandate How Contractors Will Run Their Business on Public Work
 
The "Problem Spec of the Month" goes to the Linn County Board of Supervisors for considering a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) as part of a back room political deal with building trade unions for the upcoming federally funded Options and Community Services building and a major renovation of the Administrative Office Buildings. A hands down win.  No other problem specification proposed or in play, (and there is ample competition) was even close.
 
The proposed PLA provision, first and foremost, exclusively favors building trade unions, their internal financing systems and overall organizing goals.  If the unions can get this done, it (the PLA) is a dagger to the heart of Iowa's right to work law.  Other possible beneficiaries may be the union mechanical and electrical trades - although they will pay heavy price in collateral damage to their local collective bargaining process. With the proposed PLA, the unions will no longer need to bargain with employers, particularly since the public owners are more than willing to give the proverbial farm away. .The same goes for the collective bargaining process for the local general contractors. In addition, quasi-union or non-union contractors will be adversely affected because they will be forced to act as if they are union for all the crafts on the job. This means that union, non-union and quasi-union general contractors will have mandatory business relations with all labor unions with whom they have disaffiliated, or were never affiliated, as part of their company operations.

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.

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