The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 29, 2004

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Wage hikes don’t move too much
Building trades labor agreements among all crafts so far in 2004 are about the same as last year – averaging $1.44 per hour, or 4.1 percent, according to the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC) and the Construction Labor Report.

Wage and benefit increases for the second year of new labor agreements averaged 3.9 percent or $1.48 per hour. For the third year, increases dipped to 3.7 percent or $1.43 per hour. All the figures were similar to last year’s, and Construction Labor Research Council Executive Director Robert Gasperow told the labor report that the size of increases “was essentially unchanged” from 2003.

The research covered 186,235 union workers. The CLRC said the preference for three-year contracts continued, but some contracts were longer.

In a look to the future construction wage picture, “the labor market may finally be regaining some of the strength it lost over the past few years, and wage increases should start to accelerate early in 2005, according to the “wage trend indicator” put out by the Bureau of National Affairs.

In the realm of nonunion construction, Personnel Administrative Services (PAS) reports that workers received average hourly wage increases of 3.66 percent through June 2004, which represents the lowest average increase since 1993.

Michigan’s 2004 average hourly rate for nonunion construction workers is $18.86 – down 12 cents per hour from 2003. According to PAS, the highest nonunion wage rate among all crafts in Michigan is for electricians, who earn an average of $21.30 per hour.

Carpenters seek AFL-CIO reform
United Brotherhood of Carpenters President Douglas McCarron told a group of construction industry executives that his union will not re-affiliate with the AFL-CIO unless there is significant reform in the structure of the labor federation.

On Sept. 27, McCarron criticized the AFL-CIO for maintaining what he called a bloated payroll and providing little accountability to affiliated unions. According to the Construction Labor Report, McCarron told the Builders Association of Chicago that the AFL-CIO’s strategies “lacked vigor and creativity” in response to union density declines.

The Carpenters broke away from the AFL-CIO in 2001 primarily over a dispute in how the federation spends dues money on organizing. However, the Carpenters have maintained their ties with the rest of the building trades on a national level.

Yup, Cheney was in the IBEW 
Vice President Dick Cheney did indeed carry an IBEW union card, as he said in his debate with John Edwards.

IBEW President Ed Hill said Cheney was an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers member “during his stint on a utility line crew in Wyoming.”

Hill added that “we suspect he likes to raise his old connection with us because he knows the workers who stood together as part of the IBEW and other unions have done more to raise the standard of living in this nation than any other movement in our nation’s history.

“We wish we had done a better job instilling these union values and principles in the young Dick Cheney when we had the chance. Perhaps then he would not so relent-lessly pursue policies that have caused catastrophic job losses and inflicted tremendous pain on countless working families.”