The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Delegates seek to overcome prevailing wage protests, start construction spending

WASHINGTON (PAI) - Armed with arguments showing construction projects 
immediately put people to work, 2,578 delegates from the nation's building trades unions headed for Capitol Hill April 7-9 to lobby for federal funds to start putting shovels in the ground. ..

Building trades support the troops

WASHINGTON - The Governing Board of Presidents of the AFL-CIO Building Trades Department expressed support for the U.S. troops serving in the Persian Gulf during the group's annual legislative conference April 7-9. ..

Building trades have an 'in' at MeadWestvaco outage

ESCANABA - With a soft employment outlook for the building trades in the Upper Peninsula, it's good to have "steady Eddie" employers that keep the paychecks coming in.

One of those is the MeadWestvaco plant (formerly Mead Corporation), which hosted a 12-day outage at its paper mill on Little Bay De Noc that began March 24. Up to 500 building trades workers toiled on the site in an annual outage to refurbish the company's recovery boiler.

The trades performed tube panel replacement, duct work repairs and repaired the electrostatic precipitator in addition to other miscellaneous work. They worked under contractors Jamar Construction, API, Bosk Paints and M & J Electric.

"We need to do effective maintenance in order to assure continued compliance with federal rules and regulations that cover our permit," said Mike Fornetti, director of source and support for MeadWestvaco. "It's also very important that the outage be performed in a safe, speedy and cost-effective manner. The competitive nature of the paper business and competitive pressure from imports puts us under a lot of cost pressure."

The bulk of the work on the outage was directed at the recovery boiler. It's also called a black liquor boiler, because during the papermaking process, sap and other byproducts are removed during the pulping process and used to fuel the boiler. At some point, someone decided the fuel resembles black liquor.

The recovery boiler generates 506,000 lbs. of steam per hour at the plant, which helps MeadWestvaco's on-site power plant create 100 megawatts of power. The plant has three other boilers on site that continue to operate during this outage. The company operates three coated paper machines at the site, and the integrated pulp and paper mill have a combined capacity of 700,000 tons per year.

MeadWestvaco currently employs over 1,200 at its Escanaba location. Mead has had controlling interest in the Escanaba plant since 1942, but a power plant has operated at the site since 1907.

The use of certified welders, safety training and good planning got the outage off to a good start, Fornetti said on the third day of the process. "In general we have a history of being blessed with having good work crews and contractors, and the training provided by organized labor and their contractors has helped. We've been appreciative of that," he said.

Hardhats worked 12-hour shifts during the outage. About one-quarter of the trades workers were boilermakers. Two other outages at the MeadWestvaco plant will be held in April.

Boilermakers Local 169 Business Agent Babe Jenerou said the outages are taking place at a good time for the U.P. The only other major industrial project going on in the U.P. is work at the Presque Isle Powerhouse. "Every year, Mead has been a good employer for us; we're fortunate to have them around," he said. "It sure hasn't been difficult to find people to do the work."

A BOILERMAKER takes the torch to cut up an old combined condesate tank during the MeadWestvaco outage.


American Axle's headquarters campus rolls toward completion

Construction work is starting to gear down on the seven-story, 252,000-square-foot American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) headquarters building in Detroit. ..

Work stoppages a thing of the past

The argument that the potential for strikes is a hindrance to hiring union workers took another blow last month, as the Labor Department reported that major work stoppages in the U.S. dropped to a record low of 19 in 2002. Only three of those 19 work stoppages were in the construction industry. ..

Can't help falling…You can, with a good safety plan, well-fitting harness

"Careful out there!" ..


Anti-union rules irk some in GOP 
WASHINGTON (PAI) - Twenty-six GOP House members are asking Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to dump union reporting rules that would cost organized labor 
millions of dollars. ..