The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 27, 2015

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Unionization trend: Hey, we're No. 63!

The United States is becoming a backwater when it comes to labor union density.

Among 75 countries included in a study by the International Labor Organization, the U.S. was ranked ahead of only 12 other nations in the share of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Among the most unionized nations: France, Belgium, Austria and Uruguay, which are nearly 100 percent organized. The U.S. is among the worst, at 11.9 percent organized. That places us just ahead of South Korea (11.1 percent) Indonesia (10 percent) and Lithuania (9.7 percent).

Ahead of the U.S. was Mexico (12.2 percent), Venezuela (13.2 percent) and Poland (14.7 percent).

“Collective bargaining can play a key role in translating growth into social progress” says Philippe Marcadent, Chief of the ILO’s Conditions of Work and Employment Branch. “Governments should be at the forefront of promoting collective bargaining and the use of social dialogue as the means to that end. This includes guaranteeing an enabling legal framework that recognizes, promotes and upholds the rights of unions and employers’ organizations to have their voices heard, as well as specific measures to promote collective bargaining.”

Malaysia, the Philippines and Ethiopia are at the bottom of the list with a unionization rate of about 1 percent.

The ILO said collective bargaining has come under pressure in many countries since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008.

New construction starts climb 13 percent

New U.S. construction starts in October advanced 13 percent to an adjusted annual rate of $591.1 billion, according to a report released Nov. 20 by Dodge Data & Analytics.

The increase follows the lackluster performance for construction starts during August and September, when activity fell to the lowest levels reported so far in 2015. Much of October’s gain for total construction was due to a sharp rebound by nonresidential building, a moderate upturn for housing and further strengthening by multifamily housing.

At the same time, the nonbuilding construction sector (public works and electric utilities/gas plants) settled back in October, reflecting a decreased amount of power plant projects. During the first ten months of 2015, total construction starts were $551.9 billion, up 10 percent from the same period a year ago.

“The healthy increase for construction starts in October alleviates concern about a stalling expansion that may have arisen with the sluggish activity in August and September,” said Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “The construction start statistics do show volatility on a month-to-month basis, and as a result trends in the near term are rarely smooth. On balance, though, factors within the economic and political environment still point towards the continued expansion for construction.”