The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 23, 2017

Iron workers top out UP Health System

By The Building Tradesman

MARQUETTE - Construction of the UP Health System's 500,000 square-foot hospital building is progressing to a completion in the fall of 2018, as we pointed out in a feature in our last issue.
Since then, there have been two developments at the site, west of downtown near US 41 and Baraga Avenue.

On June 7, Local 8 iron workers employed by Azco Steel topped out the eight-story structure with 4,000 tons of steel going into the framework. "I would say it's one of the largest projects that the U.P. has seen in a while," said Azco Superintendent Eric Pergolski. "The job has gone well for us. We had a pretty mild winter and that played a major factor in the progress we were able to make."

Steel erection began on the project on Oct. 3. The iron worker head count peaked out at about 37. Pergolski said there are a few miscellaneous tasks, mostly punch list items, left to do in the coming weeks.

The entire project is a $300 million undertaking that will include the hospital, a medical office building and a parking deck. Work on the 265-bed hospital, managed by the team of Skanska-Closner, will feature round-the-clock emergency services, surgical, pediatric and behavioral health care, women’s services, cancer care, cardiac care, and laboratory and imaging services.

In other news at the site, a group of more than 100 members of several local unions showed up nearby on June 12 with "UP workers First" signs to protest the use of non-local workers on the job. Mike Thibault, Upper Peninsula business representative for the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, said the glass and fireproof installation are being performed by an out-of-state workforce. A group of Florida and Texas workers are in town performing glass installation on a project that has so far hired an 85-90 percent local, union workforce. 

The next day, he said the protest did some good. "With the glasswork, there has been no local workforce involvement whatsoever," Thibault said. "I think more than anything, the protest forced open a dialogue we haven't had before, and shed some light on the project with the community." He said a number of non-trades workers showed up in support, and there were statements of support made by local officials. "We may now be headed in the right direction on this," Thibault said. 

LOCAL 8 Iron Workers and Local 324 Operating Engineers mark the topping out of the UP Health hospital in Marquette on June 7.