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25
Sep

Special Notice

Written by Keith Inglin.

Special Notice About This Site

BAC/ADC of NJ is in the process of making updates to this web presence!

The site is going to have the same look and feel but some augmented abilities behind the scenes as well as for our members. The new version is nearly ready but there may be a short break in availability while a host-transfer is made.
In the event the site is down for a short period of time you can still access information via our Bordentown and Fairfield locations via phone or our Social Media locations.

We appreciate your understanding as we add to our capabilities and make it easier to keep you informed. This message will be removed when the transfer is complete.

 

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24
Sep

BAC IMI Apprentice Contest

Written by Keith Inglin.

BAC IMI Apprentice Contest

Recently apprentices from across the country competed at the John J. Flynn International Training Center in Bowie MD.

Video was captured during the day that showcases the projects and interviews influential parties from the IMI. To view the video use the link below.

IMI Apprentice Contest Video Link

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26
Aug

OSHA Violations

Written by Keith Inglin.

 

OSHA Violation Sighting

- These photos were taken Friday at the Joseph Brandt School in Hoboken, New Jersey by Carlos Crespo. The non-union contractor on the project is Punjab Restoration, LLC. - The Star-Ledger Hoboken Public Schools Hoboken Board of Education

 

 

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21
Jan

Newsletter - Winter 2014

Written by Keith Inglin.

Winter 2014 Newsletter

 

 

View in PDF Format

(note that the pdf document is large in file size and may not display immediately depending upon your download speeds)

Quick Links: Directors Report | Secretary/Treasurers Report | Local 4 Presidents Report | Local 5 Presidents Report 
|
Local 4 Apprentice | Local 5 Apprentice | Office | Funds


Directors Report - Winter 2014 - Rich Tolson

Brothers and Sisters,

My initial wish to all of you and your families is for a peaceful holiday and Christmas season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.


As 2014 progressed, opportunities for our members increased and hours are finally on the rise! After 5 years of a stagnant construction economy in New Jersey, more and more projects are finally getting in the ground. Through the tireless efforts of all your Union representatives, our Union contractors are being awarded more jobs that put our members back to work. This increase in hours has not only helped our members in regards to take home wages, but has had a positive effect on our Local pension funding levels and has allowed us to once again improve the health care benefits we can offer. Those improvements are listed under the administrators report inside this newsletter.


In addition, as of January 1, 2015 the Local 4 and Local 5 annuity plan is merged in to one statewide plan, the New Jersey BAC Annuity Fund. You should have already received correspondence regarding this change and any effect it may have on your account. The combined resources of the two plans makes for a stronger, more efficient fund that allows for greater leverage on our part on behalf of the participants.


On September 1, 2014, our International Union wisely re-merged Local 2 with Local 5. This reconsolidation of membership provides for more strength, solidarity, and efficiency of all of our efforts. Local 5 will now function the same way Local 4 has throughout the existence of the ADC since 2006.


We continue to improve our use of electronics to serve all of our members from apprentices, to journey workers, to retirees. Recently, IMI conducted a web based training seminar for our staff that improves the tracking of not only apprentice training, but journey worker training and certification as well. In 2015 we look forward to rolling out an IMI training card that has all of a members training and certifications recorded electronically on a QR code. In addition, this card will have the member’s picture on it to assure authenticity.


Externally, we will continue to promote your Union and our industry through our Structural Coalition, the IMI led initiative of Campaign for Jobs, and our ongoing marketing effort started two and a half years ago.


Internally, we will continue to provide upgrade and cross-craft training for all journey workers. We will continue to try and raise the bar within our industry to differentiate our members from the non-union. Recognizing our members as “Master Masons” and all the training that requires will further enhance our claim that we are the “Best Hands in the Business”. Under the leadership of IU President Jim Boland, the national apprenticeship task force will be bringing up to date and making consistent all of our training throughout the country. We will be sharing all this information as it progresses on a continual bases at the monthly membership meetings, so I encourage all of you to attend and be informed.


And speaking of getting involved, I want to end by reminding you once again that no one is going to hand us anything. The assault on Unions is national and concerted. We all must be involved to fight back effectively. When elections come, we must have members participate in Labor walks, phone banks, and other efforts to elect Union-Friendly candidates. When it comes to taking to the streets to protect our area standards, more members must be willing to walk picket lines. It is disgraceful when your Union has to man a job action and must rely on the same people every time. This applies to ALL members, those that work out of the Hall and those that are fortunate enough to work steady for a company. The only way our Union can overcome the obstacles and challenges we face, both internally and externally, is to stand together as the BAC has done for the past 150 years. Now is no time to abandon that philosophy!


Richard E. Tolson
Director

 

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Secretary/Treasurer Report - John Capo

Your Vote Does Matter

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing there will be no results”
.
Mahatma Gandhi, the preeminent leader of the Indian Independence movement in British ruled India.

For many of us becoming inspired to vote in any election for any candidate from either party seems to be happening less and less. In fact statistics show that more than half of registered voters didn’t vote in the past several elections. In addition, a recent Gallup poll revealed, of all registered voters, 46% are registered as Independent, not identifying with either party. That percentage is at an all-time high.

Another Gallup poll from January of 2014 showed 65% of Americans stated they are dissatisfied with our Government. Whether we feel it is our do nothing Congress, corrupt politicians, wealthy legislators who are out of touch with middle class family issues or lobbyists and big money interests controlling who wins elections, we have come to the conclusion our vote does not matter. So we ask ourselves…. why vote?

Being Secretary Treasurer has given me many opportunities to work with state and local politicians from both parties dealing with important issues to BAC. At times I feel these politicians have let BAC down due to their lack of understanding our issues. Rather than complain, I decided to do something about it and get involved. This past November I ran for Passaic County Freeholder. I knew it would be a huge commitment and sacrifice but reminded of Gandhi’s quote, it was an easy decision to make. Unfortunately the result did not turnout in my favor but I can assure you it was not due to lack of effort.

This article isn’t about me. It is about our obligation to vote. The obligation to vote once a year. Twice if you vote in a primary. Voting is a right that we don’t always take seriously. A right our veteran’s fought for and some gave the ultimate sacrifice. A right where in other countries, citizens are literally dying for the opportunity to freely cast a vote for who governs them. I am not writing this to preach or lecture. I am giving a perspective of the hard work and sacrifice it takes to run for office. For several months it involves campaigning 7 nights a week and all weekends. From attending dinners and fundraiser, youth sporting events, union meetings, street fairs, town picnics and walking door to door, it’s a major undertaking. Like many others who run, I didn’t do it for personal gains. I did it to try to make a difference. There are good people running for and currently holding office who want to do the right thing. I know, I was one and had the honor to run with another.

Yes, your vote does matter. In my recent election campaign, in a county with the highest property taxes in the Country based on percentage of median income, voter turnout was only 32.2%. We deserve better. Our children and grandchildren deserve better. If more voters took the responsibility to be informed and fulfill their obligation to vote, a cement finisher from the BAC could be a Freeholder. If we don’t take the time to vote, in my opinion, we dishonor all the hardworking, honest and loyal people who make the sacrifice to run for political office and the volunteers who sacrifice as well. More importantly we dishonor all those, going back to the start of this great nation, who gave so much for all we have today. We cannot have the opinion “I’m only one vote, it doesn’t matter.” It is our obligation, our duty, as Americans to participate in the process of electing our government officials who will make decisions that will set the course of our towns, counties, states and country for decades to come. It’s that important.

George Jean Nathan, literary magazine founder, once quoted “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” If you are one of the 65% of Americans mentioned earlier not happy with our government and don’t vote you have no one to blame but yourself. John Quincy Adams, our sixth President of the United States gave us a quote to think of when we feel our vote doesn’t matter. “Always vote for principle, though you may not vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

John F. Capo
Secretary Treasurer

 


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BAC ADC Local 4 Presidents Message - Kenneth Simone

 

Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season. Currently there are 15 members on the job referral system. This number was up to 300 members on the job referral system not that long ago. When times were tough many members left the trade to find other options to support their families. Construction Unions have had it the worst through this recession than any time I can remember in my 35 years of membership. But as work picks up we cannot become complacent. We need to organize new and former members and contractors so when hard times come again we will be stronger. Our apprentice program is stronger than ever. As it has been said many times these young men are the future of our Union. I respectively ask that all Forman and Journeyman take interest in helping these young men on the job sites. It is imperative that our apprentices become the next generation of the best hands in the business. When my father got in the union 60 years ago, a journeyman said to him "why are you getting into this business kid its shot. “There's no future for you."  He is now 78 and retired and enjoying a Pension from the Union that lets him continue his quality of life he had when working. My point is, don't be that journeyman with negative input to our future journeymen. As long as you apply yourself the opportunities are endless. You get out of it what you put into it.

I would like to wish the best of luck to Russell Herman, Jason Fidalgo and Anthony Randazzo, our three apprentices who will be competing in the National Apprentice Competition Spec Mix 500 in Las Vegas and best of luck to Local 5 member Mark Wells who will be representing New Jersey in the journeyman competition for the fastest bricklayer.

Local 4 continues to battle a project in Montclair called Centre Verde. This project is being developed by LCOR which is partially funded by the California Teachers Pension Fund (CALSTRS). Some of the actions that we have taken are as follows;

  • Hand billing of all of the colleges in Essex County

  • Bannering at the job site

  • Hand billing at the job site

Future actions being discussed are a mass rally or picket line. Your local needs all members to participate in these actions when called upon. We cannot leave it to the same members to always participate in these actions. We all enjoy the benefits of belonging to the union, we all need to fight for our future.


Kenneth Simone
President
BAC/ADC Local 4

 

 

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BAC ADC Local 5 Presidents Message - Kevin Duncan

 

Brothers and Sisters,

Late summer and early fall saw the work environment improve greatly.  Hopefully, this will continue to be the trend leading to a lasting sustainable recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression.  The hardships our membership has endured since 2008 are immeasurable. Hopefully this is a new beginning.  Hunterdon and Somerset Counties still remain slow, but next year, Raritan Valley College in Branchburg will have a new building starting as well as a Costco in Flemington.  Mercer County has picked up somewhat and should be in good shape next year.  Middlesex County continues to be strong with new projects on the books for 2015.  Monmouth, Ocean, Gloucester, Cumberland and Camden counties have picked up. There seems to be more work opportunities appearing on our Search Engines (Dodge, CIS and PCN.) The ADC and the Staff of Local #5 will continue to do our utmost to secure the opportunities that present themselves.

Part of our struggles still continue from the attack on Unions in general and this climate certainly did not change at the national level with this last election cycle.  There are many challenges that lie ahead. We continue to help and support those who support us. The ADC and Staffs of the Locals are always working, reaching out to various entities, cities, towns and politicians.  If needed, it is incumbent upon everyone to become engaged in the process to protect and improve the conditions and standards that we all enjoy.

I would like to thank all those who helped on the foundation for Bob Vazquez in Union Beach. Bob and his family lost their home an all their belongings in Super Storm Sandy.  Bob’s family has a long history with I.U. Executive Vice President Gerard Scarano’s former Local #35.

Also, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Labor Walks and Phone Banks this election cycle. Taking time out of your Saturdays is truly appreciated.

Congratulations to former Presidents Kirk Gerety of Local #2 and Donald Engelhardt of Local #5 on their retirements. Their years of service to our organization is immeasurable.  Also, congratulations to Kirk for winning his election to City Council in Somers Point, NJ.

In closing, I wish everyone a safe, healthy and joyous holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Kevin B. Duncan
President

BAC/ADC Local 5

 

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From e Desk of Nick D'Orazio

 

Brothers and Sisters,

 

With work on the rise and a very promising year in 2015, we at the BAC/ADC of New Jersey Locals 4 & 5 want to make certain if you are unemployed and seeking work that you are putting your name on the Out Of Work List. As well as removing your name from the list once you are gainfully employed. If you have never used the Out Of Work List, the phone number and directions are as follows;

  • Dial 1-877-353-7607

  • You will be prompted to enter your Social Security Number

  • You will be prompted to enter your 4 digit pin.

(Your pin is the last four digits of your social security number)

  • Follow the directions to add or remove your name from the Out of Work List, as prompted.

Important – Our Out Of Work List and our RoboCall System work off of the same database, if you are currently not receiving any prerecorded telephone calls from the ADC or your Local, please contact either Jeryl Hernandez at Local 4 973-244-9962 or Lisa Wysinski at Local 5 609-324-0500 extension 211, and update your records.

We at the BAC/ADC of New Jersey are constantly trying to promote social media with our membership, through our website, www.bacadcnj.com and through Facebook. I have the pleasure to inform you that BAC Local #4 member and instructor Keith Inglin will be working hand in hand with the leadership of the ADC and the Locals, to bring to you the most current information in a timely fashion.

Additionally, there are three Facebook pages available to our members. Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers / ADC of NJ Locals 4 & 5, BAC Local 4 NJ, and BAC Local 5NJ Apprentices. These three pages are regularly updated with meeting and training information.

Please take the time to check out the website and like us like-facebook on Facebook.

Nicholas D’Orazio

Office Administrator

 

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BAC Local 4 Apprentice and Training - Robert Alesandro


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I  very happy to report this has been a very good year work wise for our apprentices. At times were up to 98% employed and it looks like we will finish the year aroun 95%

We will be offering PCC training February 9th through 27t, week days only, from 7:00am to 3:30pm (must attend all days)

Related and cross training will start in January run into March. Anyone interested in improving their skills can come to the training center Monday through Friday from 7am till 3:30pm.

The next OSHA 30 cass is scheduled for February 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th (must attend all days)

The next Global Harmonizing System (GHS) class is scheduled for February 14th, starting at 7am.

For those who are interested in the above classes and/or training, please call the training center to sign up (973) 227-6650 between 7:00am - 3:30pm.

The local 4 Apprentice Contest is scheduled for March 14th (all 4 levels). The winner of Local 4's contest will compete at the state contest to be held in Bordentown scheduled r May 16th.

Congratulations to Russell Herman, Local 4's 2014 Apprentice of the Year.

Also, congratulations to Jason Fidalgo, Russell Herman and Anthony Randazzo, who will be representing Local 4 at the MCAA'a Apprentice Contest in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 4th. Good Luck!

Bob Alesandro
Local 4 Apprentice Coordinator/Training Director

 

 

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BAC Local 5 Apprentice and Training - Tom Feeney

 

 


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to congratulate Aaron Scheuerer on successfully completing his apprenticeship.

As the fall related training semester comes to a close, it's time to prepare for the winter/spring semester. Be aware that the training is not lonely intended for Apprentices, but for journeymen as well. The Certifications that are offered will be a requirement for all members in the near future, so take advantage and get a jump start on your future.

In review of our records, it shows that many of our members have not taken OSHA 30. Not having a card may hinder an opportunity for employment somewhere down the line. OSHA 30 is offered four time a year; January, March, September and November. Please take a look at the web site for the related training schedule. It will be posted around the third week in December 2014.

With work opportunities increasing, about 90% of our Apprentices are working, and next year looks even better. Journeymen, please take the time to assist in developing our Apprentices.

Tom Feeney

Local 5 Apprentice Coordinator/Training Director

 

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BAC Local 4 & 5 Annuity Funds - Gary Mercadante

 

Dear Annuity Participant,

The Board of Trustees of the Local 4 and Local 5 Annuity Funds are pleased to announce that effective January 2, 2015 the two funds will be merging into the New Jersey BAC Annuity Fund. Both funds had Fidelity Investments as their Investment vendor and the provisions of the two plans mirrored each other, so it made sense from an administrative standpoint, to have one Annuity fund for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers in New Jersey.

By merging the funds, we save on professional fees by having only one investment manager, one attorney, one consultant, and one accountant, instead of one of each of the professionals on each fund prior to the merge. We also have more bargaining power with Fidelity as one group with the combining of Local 4 and Local 5 annuity participants.

By now you already received at least one letter from Fidelity Investments regarding the New Jersey BAC Annuity Fund transition and you will continue to receive correspondence from Fidelity which should answer any questions you may have.

Please read the information carefully that you receive from Fidelity and as always if you have any questions, call Fidelity or the Fund Office at 1-800-324-5881.

Gary Mercadante

Administrator

Local 4 & 5 Benefit Funds

 

 

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BAC Health Funds - Gary Mercadante

 

NJ B.A.C. HEALTH FUND

Dear Participant,

The Trustees of the New Jersey Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Health Fund (“the Fund”) have made changes to the Plan of benefits (“the Plan”) effective January 1, 2015. Please read the changes to the Plan carefully as summarized below:

Please continue to use the Horizon Advantage EPO identification card that you currently have been using. You will not be issued new cards for the new year January 1, 2015. All the information on your current card is correct.

DENTAL BENEFIT : The Trustee of the New Jersey BAC Health Fund have approved a reduction of the amount of hours required for eligibility for the Dental Benefit ( $2,500 per family per year) from 1,500 hours to 1,200 hours effective January 1, 2015.

IMPORTANT REMINDER

LAB CORP ONLY FOR ALL LABWORK SERVICES: Please remember that any Lab work services that you may require must be done through Lab Corp or sent to Lab Corp even if it’s done in a doctor’s office. You should tell your doctor when he takes blood in his office that he must send it to the Lab Corp. If it’s sent anywhere else it will be considered out-of-network and you will be responsible for the total bill.

OUT -OF-NETWORK SERVICES NOT ELIGIBLE: Please remember that there are no out-of-network benefits eligible for payment. It is the member’s responsibility to make sure that the physician he or she is seeing for a service is in the Horizon BC/BS network. All out-of-network expenses will be your responsibility. If you are unsure of the network status of your physician visit online Horizon BC/BS at www.horizonblue.com. Click the “find a provider link” and it will bring you to the online directory.

Please call the Health Fund Office at 1-800-649-9998, if you have any questions.

Gary Mercadante

Administrator

NJ BAC HEALTH FUND

 

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BAC Health Funds - Side Notes

 

  • $500.00 Reimbursement Expires December 31, 2014

The $500.00 reimbursement was a one year only provision put in the plan to help defray the cost of out of pocket expenses that our members were incurring during the 2014 plan year. Please remember that you only have until March 31, 2015 to submit your paid claims with a completed claim form to Administrative Services, Inc. If you need claim forms, please contact the fund office at 800-649-9998 and we will send them to you.

  • Banked Hours Option

The banked hours option will still be available to those participants that have earned between 121 and 999 hours, in a calendar year. This means that participants may choose to save the contribution hours they earned in the previous plan year so that they may combine their past hours with their current hours to obtain eligibility in a future plan year. Example – Using your 2013 and 2014 hours for eligibility in 2015. Under this option the first 120 hours of contributions are retained by the fund for administrative expenses of the plan. Example – A participant earned 800 hours in 2013, 680 of those hours can be combined with 2014 hours for eligibility in 2015. Any questions regarding banked hours, please contact the fund office at 800-649-9998.

  • Health Reimbursement Account Option

Due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we can no longer offer the Health Reimbursement Account option to our participants. Therefore, as of December 31, 2014, the HRA option will be terminated. Any participant that still has contribution dollars left in their account, please remember that those contribution dollars expire 36 months after the end of the plan year in which they were earned. If not used within that period, the contributions will be forfeited.

  • Buy Up Option

The Buy Up option will still be available to participants who earn between 1 and 999 hours in 2014. You will have to buy up to 1,140 hours to obtain eligibility for coverage in 2015. Example – A participant with 800 hours in 2014 could purchase 340 hours times the contribution rate of $9.30 per hour to obtain coverage in the 2015 plan year.

  • Pay Stubs

To receive credit from pay stubs for hours worked for eligibility in the New Jersey BAC Health Fund, the same hours MUST be reported on the shop steward reports for the respective jobs. If pay stubs are received without corresponding shop steward reports for verification, you will not receive credit for your hours.

 

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30
Nov

Union funds on non-union building

Written by Nick D'Orazio.

BAC Local 4 Members Say:
No Union Funds for a Non-Union Project

BAC Local 4 Members recently voiced opposition to a Montclair NJ project partially funded by the California Teachers Union Pension Fund. California Pension money is lowering the standards for construction workers in N.J.

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01
Aug

Directors Report - Summer 2014

Written by Keith Inglin.

Newsletter

Summer 2014

Director’s Report

In this edition of our newsletter, I want to bring all of you up to date on our job creating initiatives, as well as some of the volunteer efforts being made throughout the state.

  • Campaign for Jobs (C4J) – This is an initiative from the International Masonry Institute (IMI) that focuses on very specific jobs in our jurisdiction in the very early planning stages. Led by IMI’s professionals in design, sustainability, green building and building codes, the effort is made to influence owners and their design representatives to make sure as much of the products the BAC installs are used. Here is a brief listing of current projects/owners targeted; New Jersey City University, Rowan University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Cancer Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers and on a national level, Marriott Hotels.

  • New Jersey Structural Coalition – Our Structural Coalition is made up of the BAC, Masonry Contractors of New Jersey and IMI. Through this coalition we have hired a professional structural engineer. Every month our engineer, along with one of the two IMI architects, visit firms throughout our jurisdiction doing preservations on the benefits of building using masonry as the structural component of their building. We also present how we can be competitive not only in the overall cost but in scheduling as well. To date, the coalition has met with architectural and engineering firms. We have also met with the NJ Schools Development Authority (SDA), the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA), as well as local school boards.

  • Legislative – The legislative process has become more and more of a day to day effort of your Union and your representatives. But the result of that has been the passage of “Direct Hire” agreements as well as “Responsible Bidders” requirements. Through the direct efforts of your Union representatives, we have passed these types of agreements, a government entity hires our BAC members directly to do work. Under “Responsible Bidders” requirements, Department of Labor (DOL) apprentice training as well as health care benefits is mandated on employers. This benefits our Union employer partners and therefore our members.

  • Marketing – “Retooling, Refining, Realigning – Rebuilding America’s Oldest Craft Brick by Brick” was adopted almost two years ago now. We continue to meet with private developers in an effort to convince them of the benefits of using BAC members on their projects. We continue to offer cross craft and upgrade training to our members, as well as training new products and systems on the market like “Rain Screen” to make sure we are positioned to install the work properly when called upon. We must continue to ensure that we are without question “the Best Hands in the Business”. Internally, we continue to build a database on everyone doing business in the construction industry throughout our jurisdiction. Currently, we have over 1,000 contacts!

  • These are a few of the efforts being made on behalf of you, our members, to create opportunities for you to go to work. Working together with our International, IMI and our contractor partners, we are covering every aspect of our industry like never before. As the construction economy begins to improve, we are well positioned to take advantage of every job opportunity available. There are still some areas of our state that remain slow, and we suggest that everyone be willing to travel to secure the work where we have it. We strongly urge everyone to learn about new products and training, as well as upgrade your crafts as necessary. This International Union has not been around since 1865 by mistake. We ALL must remain involved and diligent to make sure that proud tradition continues!

  • The leadership of your Union will continue to work to level the playing field, raise our visibility, provide effective and beneficial training, and identify the REAL problems we face and offer solutions to overcome them. All this is to provide opportunity for our members to go to work. We will do our part. Will you?

    In solidarity,
    Richard E. Tolson
    Director

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Breslin

In a recent discussion with an apprentice after one of my presentations, he impolitely called bullshit on my entire message. Since we were surrounded by a few hundred tradesmen, I resisted the sudden urge to punch in his little face (they don't call me a professional strategist for nothing!) and instead asked him to explain what he meant.

He responded, "The contractors are making a mint on our backs, and you want us to be more efficient and responsible just for them? It's crap!"

I followed up with this question: "Hey kid, how much profit do you think a contractor makes on a million dollar project?"

Without a moment's hesitation, he blurted out, "A million dollars."

"Really?" I said. "Are you sure you don't want to reconsider that answer?"

He thought for a few seconds, shrugged, and said, "Well, maybe not. But they still probably make around $500,000 profit."

Wow. Just…wow.

Do you think this young worker's mistaken beliefs impact his work ethic? What about the level of effort he puts into the job – not to mention the quality of the work he performs? If he thinks contractors are getting rich at his expense, will his attendance and accountability suffer?

Obviously, he has no clue how the union construction world really works. And if you asked some of the half-million apprentices in our industry the same questions, I'd wager you'd hear similar answers from a lot of them. This is not an isolated problem. The scary part is that these guys are going to be in our industry for the next 25 years (at least) spreading their misguided attitudes and beliefs…unless we get off our collective asses and start focusing on leveraging the power of knowledge to improve performance.

Have you ever heard the following phrase in the workplace or on the job? It comes up when people start asking supervisors and management a lot of questions or bring up tough subjects: "Treat 'em like mushrooms; just keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit."

Well, without even trying that hard, the union construction industry has done just that. We have kept the rank-and-file in the dark about the realities of our business by withholding relevant information and explaining how things work. As a result, instead of training up guys the right way and growing "mighty oaks" (figuratively speaking) to help us regain market share and seize new opportunities, we have turned into a bunch of mushroom farmers. The kid I just mentioned? He's a mushroom and he doesn't even know it. But it's not his fault. It's ours.

In some organizations, the management philosophy resembles a poker player's strategy: keep your cards close and don't reveal anything. In others, management mistakenly assumes that labor is an "unengaged commodity" – in other words, they believe the guys on the ground simply don't care about the nuts-and-bolts of running a business. And then there's a third category of companies whose leaders flat-out don't appreciate the motivational power of giving their workers a sense of purpose.

Union workers in the construction industry lack the foundational elements to both understand the industry as a whole and their role within it. They understand the work – they know how to use the tools and understand the importance of getting the job done. But after that, everything gets blurry.

When it comes to developing apprentices and new craft workers, our industry has traditionally focused on teaching and training skills. In fact, the brand identity for union workers is "highly skilled." But what's missing? Knowledge. In a competitive economy and industry that is rapidly evolving, knowledge is as important as skills. What kinds of knowledge do we need to provide to defeat the "mushroom farming" approach?

It is time for every apprentice and journeyman in the U.S. and Canada to undergo a course that should be titled "Construction Business 101." This serious educational effort needs to include the following key components:

  • Market Share: Explain what it is, why it matters, and how it affects the union construction industry. Emphasize how gaining (or losing) market share impacts the individual union member and what needs to be done to ensure that our piece of the pie keeps growing.
  • Why Union? Define the union value proposition and the promises we are making to the market. Explore the consequences of what happens when we fail to deliver on those promises. Make sure each worker understands they are personally responsible for the success of every job they work on.
  • Finances: What is the total cost of a union journeyman (fully loaded)? What is the delta between union and non-union labor costs? What are the average post-tax margins for contractors in the construction business? How do the "little things" add up to kill margins?
  • Clients: Where does work come from? How do contractors bid on and procure new work? What do clients expect? How can we convince clients to choose union? Why might they pick the competition? Why are quality and schedules so important?
  • Leadership: What are the key business skills contractors need and want in both current and future leaders? How do you obtain these skills?
  • Succession and Knowledge Transfer: How does generational change in the business impact workers personally? How might this change impact pensions? Why is mentoring so critical, both now and in the future?
  • Change: Emphasize the inevitability and necessity of adaptive change at an organizational, professional and personal level to remain competitive and relevant in today's world.

And these are just the start. Many think that being in the trades is only about hard work, determination and grit – and in a sense, they're right. I am a fourth-generation construction guy, and I know those qualities are absolutely essential to success on the jobsite. But we cannot ignore the fact that the hands that perform the work always follow the head and the heart. If our people don't understand the industry, how can they really succeed? How will they feel as if they are a part of what is going on? Why would they ever want to embrace change? If they don't even know what they cost or what a contractor generally makes, why would we expect them to care about cost control or productivity? It is time to evolve and focus not just on skills, but on knowledge as well.

The field guys are smart. They are hungry for information. They want to be empowered. They are not content to serve as "just" the production end of the business. They want a "why," and they deserve it. We can no longer assume that they just "get it". That's as unrealistic as expecting an acorn from a mushroom.

For a more comprehensive list of suggested courses for an apprentice / journeyman friendly business curriculum, download it free at breslin.biz

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07
Oct

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30
Aug

Newsletter

Summer Quarter 2013

Brothers and Sisters,

By now everyone should be aware of the new 3 year Collective Bargaining Agreement. Let me assure you that in the economic times we live in, negotiations are not an enviable situation to be in. None the less, your BACNJ negotiating team listened to our members, protected and maintained our Union conditions, expanded our opportunities for jurisdictions, and increased our compensation in the 2nd and 3rd year of the contract. But trust me, it was not handed to us.

 

Some of the issues we had to protect were at the heart of our agreement. Foreman, Shop Stewards, apprentices, and ratios of New Jersey members on New Jersey jobs! The primary focus of our efforts was to craft an agreement that enabled us the greatest potential to get our members back to work. With the low level of competition we face in our industry, coupled with reduced amounts of our materials on jobs, we adopted an attitude of protecting our core principals and accepting that a wage increase at this time was not in our industries best interest. The fact of the matter is that what shows up on your year end W-2 is more important than the line item on our wage sheets. Having the levels of unemployment the Building Trades Unions have experienced over the last 4 years it is critical to get more members back to work at current wages than it is to increase income for those members who have been fortunate enough to have been employed. I am sure this approach does not make everyone happy, but this Union is still about representing ALL not a few.

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28
Jul

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28
Jul

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BAC/ADC of NJ

3281 Route 206, Suite 1

Bordentown, New Jersey 08505

(609) 324-9681

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BAC Local #4, New Jersey

14 Plog Road, Suite 1

Fairfield, New Jersey 07004

(973) 244-9962

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3281 Route 206, Suite 3

Bordentown, New Jersey 08505

(609) 324-0500

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