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Nice job Molly!!! Posted by on

Nice job Molly!!!

Roof is gone, steel skeleton dismantle begins Posted by on

The roof of the existing building has been completely removed.

Here??s a shot from just a week ago when the roof removal had just begun:

With the roof removed, crews started dismantling the steel skeleton of the second floor.

The steel beams that were once under the roof are removed first. Instead of undoing each bolt that holds the beams in place, the crews actually cut the beams out but burning them at each end (pictured below). Once all of the beams are down, the columns will be removed in a similar fashion. The majority of the column is removed using the burning technique, however the base of each column will is removed by undoing the bolts where the column attaches to a steel plate in the concrete floor.

UBC takes fight for workers online Posted by on

It's not surprising that Carpenters union organizers in Tacoma, Washington have been visiting the jobsite of a $1 billion mixed-use waterfront development. And given that the project isn't 100% union, it's not surprising that there are some very shady things going on.

What's surprising is that an investigation by state and federal authorities was triggered by a video union carpenters produced featuring workers from the site that they then posted on YouTube.

Welcome to tech-savy world of organizing in the UBC. The Seattle-Times just published the story, detailing some of the ugly results of the investigation. Here's the YouTube video.

Make sure to check out the other videos posted on YouTube by our Brothers in the Pacific Northwest, under the name peterjmaguire. Good stuff, very good stuff.

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with Jimmy Haun, an organizer with the PNWRCC who was quoted in the newspaper article. The article was a little incomplete. Several of the workers have been suffering some serious health problems, he said, including loss of hair, sores on their hands and feet and other pretty scary stuff.

Carpenters Local 210 speaks out on National Carpentry Posted by on

Glenn Marshall, President of Carpenters Local 210 in Fairfield County, Connecticut, recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Stamford Advocate. It was published only weeks the news broke that National Carpentry's CEO John Kirk was arrested and arraigned on charges he cheated dozens of workers out of pay.

National Carpentry was also one of five subcontractors hired by AvalonBay that was cited for violations after an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General for violations on three AvalonBay sites in Massachusetts.

Marshall's letter focused on Harbor Point, a multimillion-dollar project in Stamford's South End. In discussing ongoing concerns there, he referenced National Carpentry. A portion of that the letter follows.

"I strongly believe our contractors and skilled workers can compete with any out-of-state competition as long as everyone obeys state and federal labor and tax laws. My greatest fear is that as the economy continues to spiral downward, construction users and developers will be tempted to use companies like National Carpentry Contractors, which recently worked on the East Side Commons condominiums on East Main Street and Glen View House on Glenbrook Road -- developed by Seth Weinstein of Hannah Real Estate Investors and Ray and Paxton Kinol of Stillwater Investments.

National Carpentry, based in Tennessee with an office now on High Ridge Road, has repeatedly appeared in The Advocate for all the wrong reasons. Back in March, the Connecticut Department of Labor issued numerous stop-work orders on the Stamford projects for the contractor's failure to pay workers' compensation insurance. And more recently, 34 workers on the same projects, with the support of the Connecticut Legal Services and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, sued National Carpentry for failing to pay the workers more than $250,000 in back wages.

Mayor Malloy has worked diligently to revitalize Stamford's downtown with a combination of housing, retail and transit-oriented development, creating thousands of construction jobs for local contractors, workers and suppliers. But as the global economy continues its freefall, I worry Stamford will become the "city that works" for out-of-state contractors that illegally cut costs by flagrantly breaking state and federal labor and tax laws while the rest of us are left out in the cold."

Glenn Marshall

Herald doubles down on AvalonBay sub Posted by on

A day after the Herald exposed the rampant violations by subcontractors on multiple AvalonBay sites in Massachusetts, they've picked up on the arrest and arraignment of one of those same subs in Connecticut.

John Kirk, CEO of National Carpentry, is the subject of today's bad news.

"In the civil lawsuit, the day laborers accused Kirk of violating payroll laws by using secret time cards and cash payments. The suit also alleges National Carpentry failed to pay overtime and minimum wage and eventually stopped paying workers altogether."

"After the suit was filed, Connecticut labor officials investigated. Kirk was arrested Feb. 12 and arraigned yesterday in Connecticut Superior Court. He faces up to $5,000 in fines or five years in jail."

Lexington Minuteman now reporting AvalonBay headaches Posted by on

Several of the contractors named in the Attorney General's investigation of problems on AvalonBay sites in Massachusetts involved problems on a site in Lexington.

Tonight, the Lexington Minuteman has published a story letting area residents what was really going on in their community.

Good prospects for members in Plymouth Posted by on

In one of the few bright spots in the regional construction industry, confidence seems to be growing that the massive Plymouth Rock Studios project will go forward.

Yesterday the Boston Globe ran a story outlining the project and giving an update, with information straight from the company. Space in the complex is apparently booking fast. But perhaps most important detail in the story to union carpenters was this:

"The company expects to spend $200 million on labor during the construction phase, using union workers."

Upcoming BUILD sessions scheduled Posted by on

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters and several Local Union affiliates have scheduled sessions to present the B.U.I.L.D. program for members. B.U.I.L.D. is a new program developed by NERCC to give members information about the construction industry, the Carpenters Union's place within the industry and what we need to do to thrive in the future.

The following scheduled sessions may or may not have room for additional participants. If you are a member of one of the following Local Unions and would like to participate, please contact your Business Agent to see if room is still available and to find out the location and time of the session.

If your Local Union has not scheduled a session at this time, contact your Business Agent to express interest in attending a session.

March 10--Local 210
March 12--Local 624
March 31--Local 43
April 6--Local 24
April 7--Local 94
April 23--Local 624

TAGS: B.u.i.l.d.

Herald highlights investigations of AvalonBay sites Posted by on

The Boston Herald today ran a story on the Massachusetts Attorney General's investigation of subcontractors working on three AvalonBay projects in Massachusetts.

"The company has long disputed charges by labor unions that its empire was built on the backs of low-cost workers who were brought to Massachusetts to build the luxury dwellings."
Maybe next time AvalonBay could save the taxpayers of Massachusetts the money of having the Attorney General investigate. But that supposes they are interested in preventing this type of shady behavior on their sites, rather than profiting from it.

Brian: I think they're doing them for the specifie... Posted by on

Brian: I think they're doing them for the specified locals, but if you wanted to call Rick Braccia, he might be able to give you a better idea. Or get you a better answer than this.

I am womdering if there will be room for the other... Posted by on

I am womdering if there will be room for the other two locals in Randolph to attend the program on the 12th of March ?

It gets worse for one AvalonBay sub Posted by on

In addition to the bad news National Carpentery received from the Massachusetts Attorney General??s office, National Carpentry is facing charges of wage fraud in Connecticut, according to an article in the Stamford Advocate. Company head John Kirk was arrested and arraigned on 20 counts of cheating day laborers out of wages on two projects in Stamford.

"He's the poster child of how not to do business in the state of Connecticut," said Gary Pechie, director of the state labor department's Wage and Workplace Standards Division.

Five Subs on three AvalonBay sites hit for 1099, Wage violations Posted by on

The Massachusetts Attorney General??s Office today ordered five contractors to pay a total of more than $36,000 in fines and restitution for violation wage and hour laws and misclassifying workers as independent contractors. The violations all occurred on sites where the companies were working for AvalonBay Communities, Inc. The projects involved were in Lexington, Woburn and Hingham, Massachusetts.

AMC Building Construction LLC of Thorndike, MA agreed to pay a citation for violating laws regarding misclassification at the Lexington AvalonBay site. They have also agreed to a compliance plan with the Attorney Gernal??s office that allows the AG to monitor operations to ensure compliance.

National Carpentry Contractors, which has been based in Connecticut and Tennessee was cited for misclassification and failing to provide pay stubs. Their violations were found on AvalonBay sites in Woburn and Lexington, Massachusetts.

DaVinci Construction Company has also agreed to a compliance plan with the Attorney General??s office. After investigation of their practices at the AvalonBay project in Lexington. F.A. Construction of Revere was cited for violations at the Lexington Project. C&K Subcontractors of Fairfax, Virginia was cited for failing to provide records for inspection in regards to their work on the Hingham job.

The investigation was the result of a referral given to the Governor??s Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification.

AvalonBay has long been under scrutiny for the way subcontractors on their sites conduct business. In late 2006, OSHA levied massive fines for safety violations on several cites in the region, but then rescinded them. Only months later, a worker on the Woburn site was killed in a fall resulting from dangerous conditions similar to the ones that had earned the fines.

Does America still need unions? Posted by on

The rash of investigations and prosecutions of employers who don't pay workers seems to indicate their may be a need for union representation for workers. (That's not a typo, we're not talking about employers not paying workers as much as we think they should, we mean workers are out there not getting paid for their work.)

The move by the Bush administration toward "voluntary compliance" with safety standards on job sites might have increased the need for someone to make sure employers allowed workers to work safe.

The decline in retirement programs in the public sector and the reckless handling of pension funds by companies, leaving workers with nothing when they retire, could be fought if more workers had the security of pension funds negotiated and administered jointly by labor and management.

The sacrifice of high school vocation programs on the alter of school budget discipline and the feeling that construction is really not a skilled craft leaving union apprentice programs as not just the best, but virtually the only place for people to properly learn a trade is troubling.

But somehow, Parade Magazine still thinks there's a need to ask: Does American still need labor unions? You can answer in their online poll.

Good news from Washington Posted by on

Congresswoman Hilda Solis is now Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. After a protracted discussion over her nomination--focusing on her support of the Employee Free Choice Act--Solis was confirmed by a resounding 80-17 vote in the Senate.

Sign Mock-Up on Display Posted by on

On Monday, representatives from the Carpenters Union, ADD Inc., and Sensory Interactive were on hand for a product demonstration of the transparent LED display that will be a part of the new Carpenters Center.

Seen below in the rendering of the new building, the sign will be located on the Expressway side of the building, visible from traffic traveling Northbound on I-93. The displays that were on hand Monday were mock-up sizes of the actual sign, which will measure approximately 32 feet high by 22 feet wide.

The display is transparent, meaning that from the inside of the building you will be able to see through the display to the Expressway, even when the sign is turned on and displaying a still image. The sign is made up of rows of LED lights, allowing this visibility from the inside of the building out.

The mock ups were lifted into the air by a crane, which allowed onlookers to get an idea of the brightness, viewing angles, and viewing distance of the LED Display in both daylight and at night.

A view of the mock up in daylight.

A view at dusk.

The Carpenters Union is working with Sensory Interactive to finalize the details of design and final approvals.

Photo Slideshow - Demo February 2009 Posted by on

Roof Removed Posted by on

Crews began removing the roof from the existing building. Excavators were brought in to the second floor to remove the roof off the concrete slab.

The following shots show the center section of roof being removed.

Solis to get vote Tuesday Posted by on

President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Labor will finally get a vote on Tuesday. Congresswoman Hilda Solis' nomination has been pending while Democrats try to figure out if Republican opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act is strong enough to maintain a filibuster on her vote.

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the nomination, moving it out of committee an allowing it to be scheduled for a Senate floor vote. Without a Republican filibuster, Democrats have more than enough votes to give final approval to Solis for the Cabinet position.

More workers have to chase pay Posted by on

A press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office begins...

BOSTON ?C Attorney General Martha Coakley??s Office has cited Yi Wen Yu, age 46, of Malden, owner of both Sing Kee One Seafood Restaurant, doing business as Big Fish Restaurant, formerly of Chinatown, and Wen Construction, Inc.,, also located in Chinatown, for violating the Commonwealth??s wage and hour laws by failing to pay employees in a timely manner, failing to provide a suitable pay slip to employees and failing to furnish records for inspection. The citations order Yu and Big Fish Restaurant to pay over $19,000 in restitution to four employees of the restaurant, along with $7,000 in fines to the Commonwealth. In addition, Yu and Wen Construction were ordered to pay over $16,000 in restitution to four different individuals employed by Wen Construction, as well as $7,000 in fines to the Commonwealth.

Four workers had to get the Attorney General's office involved to get an average of $4,000 they were owed in wages. And yet there is a constant refrain in the business community--and elsewhere--that unions might have been necessary at one point, but certainly aren't anymore.

Interior Partitions Removed Posted by on

The demolition of the interior partitions on the first and second floor is complete, including masonry, metal stud and drywall. The debris was separated for recycling, as part of the LEED certification process.

The second-floor interior during demolition of the interior partitions.

The debris is removed from the interior of the building and then loaded into dumpsters located outside. As the debris is dropped outside, it is sprayed with water to prevent the spread of dust through the air (pictured below).

Following this cleanup, NASDI will remove the air handlers on the roof, such as air-conditioning and heating units, and then the entire roof will be removed. This will happen from the interior of the building. An excavator with demo claws will be brought into the second floor to take the roof off the slab.

NERCC Organizer saves life of a neighbor Posted by on

NERCC Organizer Mike Mizzone is getting the hero treatment after saving his 81-year old neighbor from his burning home yesterday. The house was ablaze and the neighbor was passed out on the kitchen floor when Mizzone raced in and carried the man out to safety. Check out the full story, including an interview with Mike, here.

Asbestos Abatement Complete Posted by on

The abatment process was completed today, two days ahead of schedule. Demolition of interior partitions is scheduled to begin tomorrow, February 12th.

January 27, 2008: Asbestos worker prepares windows for abatement.

Kerry speaks out for EFCA Posted by on

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry publicly reinforced his support for the Employee Free Choice Act today in a Guest Opinion piece in the Fall River (MA) Herald News. The bill, which would make it easier for workers to organize using either card check recognition or a secret ballot election, will be the biggest labor battle in Washington in several years.

Most American say they would like to be in a union, if the opportunity were more readily available, but heavy handed campaign tactics and little enforcement against rule breaking employers during NLRB elections often keep organizing efforts from moving forward successfully.

President Barack Obama supported the bill during the campaign, but business groups have putting tremendous pressure on Senators and Representatives to prevent it from passing.

First Trade could get Treasury TARP funds Posted by on

First Trade Union Bank
announced Friday afternoon that it had received preliminary approval for an $11 million investment from the US Department of the Treasury. The investment is part of the Capital Purchase Program the Treasury Department has undertaken to stimulate economic activity. The added capital will allow First Trade to become a larger part of the banking industry. The transaction is expected to close in late February.

"We plan to utilize capital received from the United States Department of the Treasury to continue to expand our relationship-based lending," noted Michael Butler, First Trade President & CEO. "We??re excited about the opportunity to support the government??s program to stimulate economic activity and are eager to play our small part in strengthening the financial markets."

The investment of TARP funds in First Trade is an indication that the Treasury Department is now providing those funds not only to banks that are troubled, but is also prepared to fund banks that can move the money onto the street and into the economy.

First Trade recently released its Fiscal Year 2008 earnings. Net income increased 17.2% from the previous year, loans grew 25.7% and deposits increased 23.1%. First Trade??s asset quality remains very strong, with net charge-offs of less than 0.01%. Additionally, its capital position also remains strong, with a Tier 1 capital ratio of 8.25% and a Risk-Based capital ratio of 12.98%.

Obama reverses Bush on Federal PLAs Posted by on

President Barack Obama yesterday reversed another Bush administration policy by issuing an Executive Order lifting a prohibition on the use of Project Labor Agreements on Federal construction projects and encouraging departments to use PLAs on projects valued at more than $25 million. The order specifically cites problems that may occur on large-scale construction projects when a structure for ensuring a steady supply of labor is not present, and when there is no formal process for resolving disputes, which are more common on sites with multiple employers on large sites.

The order stated, in part: "The use of a project labor agreement may prevent these problems from developing by providing structure and stability to large-scale construction projects, thereby promoting the efficient and expeditious completion of Federal construction contracts. Accordingly, it is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement."

Project Labor Agreements had been used by the Federal Government for years before George W. Bush issued an Executive Order prohibiting their use. Though anti-union advocates lobbied hard for that move, private companies and state governments continued to use the agreements to establish fair standards and procedures for managing projects.

The Executive Order also directs the Office of Management and Budget to study and make recommendations on broader use of PLAs "with respect to both construction projects undertaken under Federal contracts and construction projects receiving Federal financial assistance."

Abatement - Windows Posted by on

Abatement began on approximately 6,000 square feet of windows at the existing building. The single-glazed windows are being removed and prepared for proper disposal.

The asbestos may be located in the glazing compound where the window glass meets the steel edge, as well as where the windows attach to the concrete block. Each window is not individually tested for the presence of asbestos. However, because one or a section of windows were found to be 'hot' each window of similar make-up will go through the abatement process.

First, the windows are removed from the masonry opening (pictured above). As the windows are removed, they are broken down into sections. The glass is taken out of the metal frame, which is cut in half (pictured below), and it is all bagged and sent to the asbestos waste landfill.

Defending unions Posted by on

There are times when facts are set aside in arguments about issues. Particularly when it comes to discussing unions, opponents often lean on anecdotes and overstate a union's influence in something bad. There's a good example of this in an Los Angeles Times "Point-Counterpoint" piece that ran yesterday.

The piece centers around Detroit automakers and the role the UAW played in their demise. First are the typical "higher wages, not flexible enough" arguments. Then the counterpoint, which actually uses facts, including these...

Labor costs are less than 10% of the cost of a car; the other 90% goes toward research and development of new product lines, parts, advertising, marketing and management overhead. Surely this 90% is more likely to be a source of poor competitiveness, especially because, according to data from the latest Harbour Report, an annual study of manufacturing efficiency, nine out of the 10 most efficient auto assembly plants in North America are union plants, represented by either the UAW or the Canadian Auto Workers. In addition, one of Toyota's successful assembly plants in California is unionized.

That alone is probably enough to slow a union basher. Then you get to this...

Executive compensation is perhaps a more meaningful barometer of demonstrated priorities and cost structures. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, in 2007, Ford's chief executive, Alan Mulally, was compensated $21.67 million, when in the same year Ford recorded losses of $2.72 billion. GM's chief, Rick Wagoner, earned $15.7 million in compensation in 2007, while the company posted losses of $38.7 billion. In contrast, Toyota's top executive, Hiroshi Okuda, earned only $903,000. Thus, the prevailing management philosophy at the Big Three (and too many other U.S. companies), which divorces compensation from business performance, is a more likely culprit of the industry's troubles than the UAW.

Public Hearing and Information Session with the Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy Posted by on

Who: George Noel, Director of Labor, and other Representatives of the Governor??s Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification join employees, employers, and advocates.

What: A public hearing and information session to hear testimony and provide resources.The Task Force, created by Governor Deval Patrick in March of 2008, is charged with coordinating the efforts of several state agencies to stamp out fraudulent employment activities and bring those workers under the protective umbrella of statutes and regulations that protect their rights and ensure a safe working environment.

Why: Employees deserve a safe work environment. Employers deserve a level playing-field in their marketplace. The Commonwealth deserves the revenue lost to the Underground Economy.

: NorthShoreCareerCenterof Lynn 181 Union St., Lynn, MA

When: Friday, February 6th, 2009 12pm - 2pm
The Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassificationis a collaboration between the following agencies; the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and its subsidiaries, the Division of Apprenticeship Training, Division of Career Services, Department of Industrial Accidents, Division of Occupational Safety, Division of Unemployment Assistance. The Office of the Attorney General??s Fair Labor Division. The Executive Office of Administration and Finance??s Division of Capital Asset Management and Department of Revenue. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security??s Department of Public Safety. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services?? Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants.The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development??s Department of Housing and Community Development, Division of Professional Licensure, Office of Small Business & Entrepreneurship and State Office of Women and Minority Owned Businesses. The Office of the Treasurer??s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

"Our" new president Posted by on

Upon creating a White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families last Friday, President Barack Obama added these comments:

"I also believe that we have to reverse some of the policies' toward organized labor. "I don't see organized labor as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution.'

"When I talk about the middle class, I am talking about folks who are currently in the middle class, but also folks who are aspiring to be in the middle class,' the president said. "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor union.'

TAGS: Unions

Unions continue to be topic of conversation Posted by on

Robert Kuttner, Co-Founder and Co-Editor of The American Prospect wrote a column for the Huffington Post on the common agendas of President Barack Obama and America's labor unions.

What a difference a new President makes.

TAGS: Unions

Fed holding forclosure-preventions seminar Posted by on

The Boston Federal Reserve Bank is holding another foreclosure-prevention workshop on Feb. 14 in Hartford (open to all but targeting Connecticut and Central Mass.) and has respectfully invited and welcome any steps the New England Regional Council of Carpenters might take in helping us "spread the
word" about the event among members and contacts

Details are available on their website.

TAGS: Economy

Abatement Update Posted by on

Yankee Environmental Services began asbestos abatement at the building on January 28th. They have completed the floor tile abatement as well as the abatement of the entire crawl space area. They are currently working on the first floor and second floor pipe covering/insulation.

The abatement and final air sampling is expected to be complete by February 13th. Demo at the building is scheduled to begin on February 17th.

Labor-church alliance Posted by on

Sam Ellis, of the Boston Globe, wrote a piece yesterday on what could be the year of labor. He give significant play to the growing alliances between unions and churches.

Another ad on the Employee Free Choice Act Posted by on