The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 03, 2013


By The Building Tradesman

Owosso Memorial hiring angers trades

The Genesee-Lapeer-Shiawassee (BLS) Building Trades Council are picketing and handbilling Owosso Memorial Hospital and their satellite clinics for hiring out-of-area workers on a $2 million remodeling project.

Memorial Health Care has hired contractors and brought in craftspeople – most of them more than 100 miles away from western Michigan – to perform a remodel of their Owosso facility’s fourth floor patient rooms. 

“We’ve had pickets at the Owosso hospital and we’ve handbilled their outpatient clinics,” said GLS Building Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Wayne Carlson, who is also business manager of IBEW Local 948. “They could hire small local contractors, or they could hire from the area building trades and keep the wages going to people in the community. But they’re bringing in their buddies from West Michigan. And there’s no good reason to do this. Why bring in people from over 100 miles away when you have people in the community who are ready and more than willing to do the work?”

The remodeling project began about a month ago. Owosso is about midway between Flint and St. Johns. Four of the primary contractors involved in the contract are from West Michigan: Lamar Construction and Power Plumbing (Hudsonville); Parkway Electric (Holland), and Quality Air (Grand Rapids). The only portion of the project being staffed with union trades is the nurse call system, Carlson said.

The building trades have taken out ads in local papers and talked to Memorial Health Care President/CEO Brian Long, to no avail. A March 27 letter was sent to Long by GLS President Michael Lynch, Vice President Michael Randick and Carlson. In it they told Long that the building trades intend to start “a consumer boycott and publicity campaign to publicize the fact that Owosso Memorial Health Care has turned its back on our community by largely discontinuing its longstanding practice of using union contractors and skilled union craftsmen to perform construction work at its facility.”

To date, Long’s response has not been helpful. “He just basically told us not to tell him how to run his hospital,” Carlson said.

No paid sick leave, Michigan GOP plans

DETROIT (PAI) – Right Wing GOP Michigan state legislators are trying to ban paid sick leave in the state through a backdoor method – telling cities and counties they can’t pass ordinances ordering it.

In an op-ed in the Detroit News, Teamsters President James Hoffa, a Michigander, adds that “It’s enough to make you sick.”

The proposed state law, he said, would bar the cities and counties from enacting any paid or unpaid sick leave ordinance beyond what federal law now requires.  Federal law now lets full-time workers take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  But some 40 percent of eligible workers earn too little to afford it.

In response, U.S. House Democrats introduced paid sick leave legislation – which is going nowhere – and several cities and states enacted their own paid sick leave laws.  The business groups scheme to stop similar laws in Michigan, Hoffa says.

“Once again, the plan to dial back the clock on workers is a vast, coordinated assault engineered by the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, to indenture workers to the almighty powerful corporations,” he explained.