The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 15, 2010

NEWS BRIEFS

By The Building Tradesman



Small hikes for wages, benefits

The Construction Labor Research Council’s (CLRC) latest Wage and Benefit Settlements Report for 2010 finds that first-year construction industry contract settlements have resulted in an average first-year increase of $.64 or 1.3 percent.

“These amounts are little changed from the average reported earlier this year and are considerably less than the averages at this time last year,” the CLRC said in September . The average first year increase a year earlier was $1.29 or 2.7 percent.

The CLRC added: “This year’s results are characterized by the large number of wage and fringe freezes and even some reductions. No increase was negotiated in about one quarter of contracts. There have also been fewer multi-year agreements. Average increase levels were higher in both the second and third years of new contracts with increases of 2.0 to 2.9 percent most common.”

A “majority” of construction contracts are for a single year, the CLRC said. The East North Central Region, which includes Michigan, actually led the nation in wage and benefit settlements – which isn’t saying much. Average first-year increases were 97 cents, or 1.8 percent.

Obama pushes for infrastructure work

Building off his Labor Day announcement of a plan for rebuilding America’s roads, railways and runways, President Barack Obama held a meeting Oct. 11 on the economic impact of the proposed infrastructure investment.

“We need a new plan for America’s roads, rails and runways for the long-term,” he said. “Over the next six years, we will rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads – enough to circle the world six times.  We will lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways – enough to stretch coast-to-coast.  And we will restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system that reduces delays for the American people.                          “By making these investments across the country, we won’t just make our economy run better over the long haul – we’ll create good, middle-class jobs right now.”

The construction industry, with its massive unemployment, would obviously be a major beneficiary of the work.

“This new federal report is a sobering reminder of the tremendous economic costs of years of under-investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said Associated General Contractors of America CEO Stephen Sandherr. “As the report makes clear, our collective failure to repair aging roads and bridges, expand transportation capacity or address chronic traffic congestion is costing businesses billions in lost productivity and workers tens of thousands of jobs.”

Now, Obama must convince balky Republicans in Congress of the merits of the new spending plan. Any vote likely won’t be taken this year. Obama’s plan was short on specifics and dollar amounts, although he pledged $50 billion last month to get the ball rolling.

The AGC has warned of a $2.2 trillion “infrastructure deficit” in the U.S.