The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 25, 2011


By The Building Tradesman

PLAs work for Toyota construction

On the occasion of the 25-year anniversary of the construction of its first North American manufacturing facility in Georgetown, Kentucky, Toyota Motor Corp. issued a proclamation of praise for both America’s Building Trades Unions and project labor agreements.

In a Feb. 25, 2011 letter to AFL-CIO Building Trades Department President Mark Ayers, Toyota President Tetsuo Agata remarked that “…we owe a special debt of gratitude to the skilled men and women of America’s Building Trades Unions, who constructed not only the Georgetown facility, but each and every one of our assembly plants in the U.S. and Canada.”

Agata went on to say this: “Large-scale construction projects pose unique challenges for corporations such as ours that maintain the highest standards of safety, efficiency and productivity. To address these challenges, Toyota has consistently employed Project Labor Agreements for our major construction projects, and we could not have been more pleased with the results.

“To date, approximately 45 million man-hours have been invested in the construction of nine automobile, truck and component plants in the United States and Canada, with another vehicle assembly plant currently under construction in Mississippi. In each and every instance, those projects were completed ‘on time and on budget,’ and with an exemplary safety record. And the Mississippi project is proving to be just as admirable.

“As we approach this 25-year milestone, I can say without any equivocation that project labor agreements, combined with the pride, performance and professionalism of America’s Building Trades Unions have proven to be a valuable tool to meet Toyota’s economical and efficient construction process.”

Ayers said: “This is powerful ammunition to have in our arsenal as we confront the radical right-wing attacks on unions in general, and on PLAs and prevailing wages, specifically.”

Construction union membership drops

The construction industry has taken the brunt of the Great Recession in terms of employment numbers, and there has been a corresponding loss in union membership among Hardhats.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unionized construction sector lost 237,000 members last year. Those losses are in the context of about 500,000 total construction jobs lost in the U.S. last year, down from 6.6 million workers to 6.1 million workers.

As we reported in January, total union employment dropped by 612,000 in 2010 from the year before. Unions now represent a total of 14.7 million workers, a drop of 0.4 percent in union density from the year before.