The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 22, 2001


By The Building Tradesman

Laborers strengthen organizing efforts

The Laborers International Union of North America will spend $9 million over the next two years to beef up its organizing efforts, LIUNA President Terrence O'Sullivan announced.

He said 90 organizers will be added to the Laborers' regional training staff of more than 200. Total spending on organizing will top $18.5 million this year. "Our members' livelihoods directly depend on the strength of our presence in every industry in which we represent workers," O'Sullivan said. Increased spending in 2001, he said, "will ensure that we can help even more workers who desperately need union representation."

Last year LIUNA organized 19,200 new members.

Michigan unions solid in heavy-highway work

A comprehensive market comparison of union vs. open shop labor share reveals that the nation's union contractors hold a 57-43 percent dollar volume margin over nonunion employers in the area of heavy and highway projects.

The labor market analysis by the Building Trades Department's Heavy and Highway Division covered $58.8 billion worth of work during the years 1997 to 2000.

In the terms of the number of projects, another study found nonunion contractors won 55 percent of all U.S. projects during that time, compared to 45 percent for union employers.

Michigan is once again near the top of the heap when it comes to union penetration. Our state ranked tied for third with Illinois with 96 percent of heavy and highway work going union. Ohio (99 percent) and Rhode Island (100 percent) were tops.

In Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, Nebraska and Vermont, union heavy and highway share was zero during those four years.

Businesses await friendlier NLRB

With the National Labor Relations Board about to become controlled by President Bush-appointed Republicans, "employer attorneys hope it will be more sympathetic to their views than the previous board," reports The Wall Street Journal. "Lawyers expect more companies to take conflicts with unions before the board, instead of settling."

Jay Krupin of the Washington D.C. law firm Krupin-O'Brien said he is waiting for the right time to file cases aimed at challenging precedents established by NLRB majority-appointees of the Clinton Administration.

One issue that's likely to arise, the Journal said, is whether businesses can ban unions from using workplace e-mail systems to organize workers.

The makeup of the NLRB is a huge concern to working men and women. Decisions by the NLRB are often the first legal step in all manner of settling worker and management grievances, and getting off on the wrong foot can lead to losses in organizing, pay and safety disputes.