The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 22, 2019

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

NABTU numbers grow by 70,000

Unions affiliated with North America's Building Trades Unions gained 70,000 new active members during 2018, NABTU announced March 11.

The jump in numbers is "continuing a growth trend with a net gain of active membership reaching approximately 375,000 since the last recession," said NABTU Secretary-Treasurer Sean McGarvey. "In fact, some affiliates have surpassed their all-time active membership highs. Just as important, union construction work hours for all members from apprentice to journey-level continue to grow."

McGarvey said a major contributing factor in the membership growth is the ever-growing energy sector, pointing to an announcement that the U.S. is set to surpass Saudi Arabia in oil and gas exports this year. 

"Additionally," he said, "our unparalleled apprenticeship training and education model to increase safety, skill and productivity has exceeded the highest level of new registered apprentices in 10 years, and we have further committed to train over 250,000 new apprentices in the next five years. Our 150 thriving apprenticeship readiness programs continue to flourish throughout the country, graduating thousands of students, a clear majority of whom are women and minorities. Moreover, our Helmets to Hardhats program keeps placing thousands of military veterans into membership and jobs every year."

NABTU is the umbrella group for 15 international building trades unions. Including other construction-related unions that it includes in the category, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January that the overall unionization rate in the U.S. construction industry fell from 14.0 percent in 2017 to 12.8 percent in 2018.

The BLS survey said there were 1.048 million construction union members in the U.S. last year.

New money for twin lock proposed

Work on a new Soo Lock project in Sault Ste. Marie has been included in President Trump's fiscal year 2020 budget request to Congress, in the amount of $75.3 million.

The announcement was issued March 12 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District. It is continued great news for the multi-year, $1 billion project to build a lock that would twin the Poe Lock, the largest at the Soo. Any mechanical breakdown or sabotage of the Poe Lock would halt the movement of bulk goods like iron ore and cement through the Great Lakes, leading to economic calamity for the nation. 

President Trump took an interest in replacing the lock after a visit to Michigan last year when GOP lawmakers with him put it at the top of their wish list. The money will have to be approved by Congress, and more funds will  have to be doled out in the coming years.

"These funds are sufficient to initiate construction of the upstream approach walls, continue the design of the New Soo Lock chamber and complete construction of the upstream channel deepening.," said the Army Corps, which runs the locks.