The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 07, 2011


By The Building Tradesman

New bridge project may be closer

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) said last week at a Republican conference that members of his GOP caucus were “coming aboard” on the concept of building a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

“I think you’re going to see something happen in the next few weeks,” he said.

Richardville said he wants to have a majority of Republicans in his corner with Gov. Rick Snyder before there’s a vote in support of a building a new bridge. Republicans currently have a 26-12 advantage in the Senate, and Richardville has estimated he can count on 10-15 GOP votes in favor of the bridge. The bill then faces an uncertain future in the House.

It is assumed that a great majority of Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate would vote in favor of building the New International Trade Crossing, which would involve some $2.2 billion in federal expenditures. The proposed bridge, which would be located about a mile downiver from the Ambassador Bridge, would employ thousands of building trades workers from the U.S. and Canada.

With the exception of votes from the Michigan House and Senate, all other legislative permits and approvals for the bridge on both sides Detroit River have been given.

Senate panel bounces Boeing bill

WASHINGTON (PAI) – By a 14-14 tie vote on Sept. 22, a key Senate committee bounced the House-passed “Boeing bill,” to strip the National Labor Relations Board of much of its power to pursue and penalize firms that retaliate against union workers.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., tried to ban the NLRB from spending any money to try Boeing for retaliating against the Machinists by opening a production line for its 787 Dreamliner in his home state, anti-union, right-to-work South Carolina. He lost in the Senate Appropriations Labor subcommittee, which helps dole out NLRB dollars.

Boeing executives openly said they opened the Dreamliner assembly line there to retaliate against IAM for past instances where the firm forced its union workers in the Pacific Northwest to strike. The NLRB’s acting general counsel has brought a complaint against Boeing. An NLRB judge in Seattle is now considering the case.

But the Boeing bill went far beyond Boeing, AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuel warned lawmakers. The Obama administration already promised to veto it.

Graham’s move “would cripple the ability of the NLRB to protect workers from unlawful retaliation by employers in a wide range of cases,” Samuel wrote. “If the Graham amendment were to become law, it would be the first time since passage of the Taft-Hartley Act over 60 years ago that Congress voted to curb the NLRB’s ability to protect working people, their rights and their jobs – all to protect one corporation,” he added.