(Submitted by the BAC)
BALTIMORE - Although the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) considers every international convention, conducted only once every five years, to be significant, the 2015 BAC Convention was especially historic as it marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the oldest, continuously operating labor union in North America.
Held Sept. 14-17 in Baltimore, 260 delegates gathered from across the U.S. and Canada to chart the Union’s future direction, informed in part by the convention’s theme – “Build. Adapt. Change” – that also captures the essence of the union’s resiliency.
BAC President James Boland’s message to delegates in his opening address emphasized the theme that would be echoed by other speakers at general sessions, workshops and during the all-important work of the convention’s 13 committees. That is, driving change, as opposed to simply reacting to innovations in materials and work processes or to larger economic or social shifts, is essential to secure growth and expand market share for present and future BAC craftworkers.
“It’s time to grow and time to build! We need to seize the opportunity to change the priorities and economy of North America,” said Boland. To succeed would require a more “diverse workforce in our apprenticeship programs, on the job, and in our union leadership… for people who don’t have roots in construction, BAC needs to help them put down roots. It’s up to us to make it happen.”
Nominations for international officers were held Sept. 14. President Boland and his fellow Executive Board members, Secretary-Treasurer Henry Kramer, and Executive Vice Presidents Gerard Scarano and Tim Driscoll – were re-elected by acclamation to a second five-year term.
The convention’s general sessions featured an array of speakers, among them AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, North America's Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey, and BAC-endorsed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who spoke to delegates by telephone, vowing to “defend the prevailing wage, defend project labor agreements, to set the standard in the construction industry.”
Another program highlight was the presentation of the 2015 BAC Craft Awards, which pay homage to BAC Locals and members for excellence in the trowel trades and distinguished service to their Union and communities. Local 2 Michigan was the recipient of three awards for members’ outstanding work in these categories: Best Brick Project for Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Best Stone Project for South Hall at University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, and Best Cement Masonry Project for a private residence in Birmingham.