The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 01, 2002


By The Building Tradesman

Hands off labor this election year? 
It's an election year in Congress - and while all the sure-to-come political ads may be bad news, the news on the legislative front for construction labor is better.

The Construction Labor Report said members of Congress "may be skittish" about voting on labor legislation this election year, especially on the all-important Davis-Bacon Act, which is the single most important federal law that upholds pay standards for U.S. construction workers.

Since the 1930s, the Davis-Bacon Act has insured that prevailing wages for a geographic area are paid to construction workers on federally funded projects. There have been constant attacks on the law, but there has been only one specific vote on the law in both the House and Senate over the last seven years, and they were both defeated. Even with Republicans controlling Congress during several of those years, they have not been able to garner enough support to kill Davis-Bacon.

Moreover, labor unions are working more closely with the Bush Administration on some issues. Specifically, many building trades union leaders are in President Bush's corner over his support of Arctic oil and gas drilling.

"We have our hands full with this administration but if we see an opportunity to work with them, we owe it to our members to take advantage of that," said a lobbyist with the Operating Engineers International Union. 

Natives propose power production
Plans have been announced by the Hannahville Indian Community in the U.P. to build an 1,100-acre industrial park on tribal lands, which will include four separate coal-fired electric plants, capable of producing a total of 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

The total construction cost is expected to weigh in at $1.3 billion. The new source of power will allow the Hannahville Community to move into a venture completely different than its primary source of income - operating the nearby Chip-In's Island Resort & Casino.

Depending on how quickly federal approval is obtained, the first plant could be operational within five years, and all four plants could be operational within 10 years.

"This project will put this community on the map and provide the excess power to support additional industries here," said project engineering consultant Douglas Weinkauf to Upper Peninsula Business Today. Hannahville is located southwest of Escanaba.

Chiles family appreciates help
Iron Workers Local 25 member Tom "Bubba" Chiles said he is in "awe" at the generosity of friends and people he doesn't know in the building trades.

A mostaccioli benefit dinner was held for his 35-year-old sister Carolyn on Feb. 17 in New Boston, to help her defray medical costs that aren't covered by insurance and travel expenses to the Cancer Treatment of America Clinic in Zion, Ill. The mother of Nathan, 8, and Kelsey, 7, is stricken with esophageal cancer, and must travel to the clinic once a month for treatment.

"I'm just amazed at the generosity," Chiles said. "We served 1,300 dinners. A lot of people who we didn't even know just came to the dinner, didn't eat anything, and left money. People donated $70,000, and the money is still coming in. We're still getting six to 12 cards a day. This will really help take off some of the burden. It would be great if you could tell the people in the building trades how grateful we are."

Consider it done.