The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 09, 2012


By The Building Tradesman

Building Tradesman was printed on Election Day, Nov. 6, so any articles that pertain to the results of the balloting won’t be published until our next issue on Nov. 23.

Slow jobs growth continues in U.S.

The economy added 171,000 new jobs in October—the 32nd straight month of positive job growth—according to figures released Nov.  2 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The nation’s unemployment rate was up slightly from September ’s 7.8 percent.

The labor force grew by more than half a million workers in October, which is a positive sign, as more workers are seeking and finding jobs. The number of discouraged and involuntary part-time workers has fallen since last year.

The newly created jobs exceeded most economists’ predictions of 100,000 to 125,000 new jobs for the month. Also, September payrolls were revised to a gain of 148,000 from an initially reported 114,000, and August to 192,000 from 142,000. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged at 5 million. (From the AFL-CIO)

The biggest gains were in professional and business services (51,000 jobs), health care (31,000) and retail trade (36,000) and manufacturing employment by 13,000.

Construction employment increased by 17,000 jobs from the previous month, and the industry’s jobless rate fell to 11.4 percent. Overall, the construction industry’s employment rate ticked up 0.4 percent vs. a year ago. However the Associated General Contractors said overall construction employment is down 2.2 million jobs compared to six years ago, when the sector’s employment peaked at 7.7 million workers.

NLRB upholds union job targeting

The National Labor Relations Board affirmed on Sept. 28 that union job-targeting programs are protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

The ruling upholds the right of union members to allow voluntary deductions from their paychecks to “target” projects, i.e. provide wage subsidies to union contractors in an effort to allow them lower bids, giving them a better opportunity to win construction contracts.

The case dated back to 1990, and eventually came before the NLRB when a nonunion contractor filed a lawsuit challenging a United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters targeting effort for county work in Pickaway County, Ohio.

In 1998, the case went to the Ohio Supreme Court, which affirmed the nonunion firm’s lawsuit was preempted by federal law. The case wound its way to the NLRB. Majority Democratic NLRB members Mark Pearce, Robert Griffin and Sharon Block also found that the nonunion firm’s lawsuit was preempted by federal labor law and was outside First Amendment protections that have been established by the U.S. Supreme Court in previous case laws. Dissenting Republican NLRB member Brian Hayes contended that the case wasn’t preempted by federal law.

The NLRB majority ruled that “job targeting programs constituted clearly protected activity on both privately funded projects and – as in this case – publicly funded projects.”