The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 17, 2013

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Gleason back to politick for trades

Patrick “Shorty” Gleason, a familiar figure at the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, has been brought back on as the council’s Legislative Director, effective May 13. Gleason’s hiring comes as the building trades attempt to navigate some strong anti-union headwinds in Lansing, with passage of a right-to-work law in December and the ongoing attempts to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law and scale back project labor agreements.

A Genesee County Commissioner until last year, Gleason, 58, served as the council’s president from 2005 to 2010. He narrowly lost an election for state representative last August. A 40-year member and past President/Business Agent of Iron Workers Local 25, Gleason will continue to serve on the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

“The way I look at it, I’m here to ride herd on our friends and our foes in Lansing, and make sure that the building trades have a voice in what’s going on,” Gleason said. “Organized labor has had a difficult time in the past couple of years; I’m just going to try to make sure that the building trades and our participating contractors can find common ground with lawmakers on the issues that are out there.”

Job One, Gleason said, is preserving the state’s prevailing law. “No question, it’s at the top of the list,” he said.

Gleason’s appointment was effective May 13.

Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, said Gleason “brings a wealth of knowledge to the job about the political process in Lansing. We’re very fortunate to have him as a resource. With all the attacks organized labor has seen these past two years, you can’t have too many people fighting on your behalf. Shorty is going to be a great help advocating for the building trades.”

Construction wages take a small hike

After years of minimal movement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported April 30 that compensation (wages and salaries, benefits, and required employer payments such as unemployment and worker’s compensation) for all employees in the construction industry increased by an average of 2.0 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. While mild compared with the 3 percent to 6 percent annual gains from 1998 to 2008, it was the fastest annual increase since December 2008.

The Associated General Contractors reports that the pickup in construction compensation contrasts with a small deceleration in overall private sector compensation. That figure slowed to 1.7 percent in the latest four quarters, the smallest year-over-year change in three years.

Wages and salaries in construction (not including benefits) increased only 1.7 percent, less rapidly than other forms of compensation. The AGC says by the end of 2013, compensation in construction could easily be 3 percent higher than in December 2012.