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Hingham takes tough medicine Posted by on

Members of the Carpenters Union passed out information to Hingham residents attending last night's Town Meeting. The meeting considered and passed a motion a Proposition 2 1/2 override question on a town election ballot this weekend. Hingham must secure additional funding (raise taxes!)to qualify for reimbursement from the State School Building Authority for a school building recently completed.

The information handed out by carpenters made the connection between the underground economy and overrides like the one in Hingham. As you recall, several subcontractors for Avalon Bay have been cited recently by the Attorney General??s Office for misclassification of workers and other wage and hour law violations. Misclassification cheats the feds, state and local municipalities out of owed tax revenue and is a significant problem in the construction industry state-wide.

Avalon Bay CEO Bryce Blair is a Hingham resident.

Rick Braccia, President/Business Manager of Carpenters Local 424 submitted the following letter to the Hingham Journal:

April 23, 2009

To the Editor;

Last year, in this and other local newspapers, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters shed light on the illegal business practices of a number of developers and contractors, both large and small. In Hingham, we focused on Avalon Bay and its CEO, Hingham resident, Bryce Blair. It was our contention that our members, as well as every other taxpayer in the Commonwealth were being cheated by the failure of Avalon Bay??s contractors to comply with state and federal tax laws. In many cases, we were dismissed as sore losers because our contractors and members were not being awarded the work on the projects.

In February of this year, the State Attorney General??s office issued citations against several contractors who worked on Avalon Bay projects throughout New England. The fines imposed were for the same violations which the carpenters union claimed were standard procedure on the jobs, and in fact, were part of the Avalon Bay business model.

However, vindication is far from sweet. These same business practices continue unchecked, not only in the world of profit driven private development, but in public construction as well. As Hingham is facing an override to secure state funding for the new elementary school, V Locke Contracting, a major subcontractor on that same school is under investigation by the Attorney General??s office for multiple violations, including worker misclassification, falsification of public documents, and undercutting the state-mandated wage. I have personally interviewed several workers who worked on this project and who were paid in cash, at less than the prevailing wage.

There seems to be more than a trace of irony in this. Avalon Bay??s contractors, V Locke Contracting, and hundreds like them are cheating Massachusetts out of hundreds of millions of dollars annually in unpaid taxes. And now Hingham is in the position of asking their taxpayers to come up with more cash out of pocket to supplement the shortfall in state revenue.

I have to ask- where is the outrage? I urge Hingham taxpayers to visit the new school on Collins Avenue and talk to the superintendant. His employer, CTA, won the bid based on a cheater??s price. Ask him why you should pay his salary. I also urge any resident who sees Bryce Blair around town for a thank you or an apology. After all your taxes are subsidizing his business.

Richard Braccia
Carpenters Local 424

Carpenters help Boston Shine Posted by on

On Saturday, Carpenters Local 67 joined Boston City Council President Mike Ross and hundreds of other volunteers to help spruce up the Boston Common for "Boston Shines" a city wide cleanup program to spruce up the city for the upcoming tourist season. Forty rank and file members joined executive board members to lend their valuable skills to the effort.

On the event and the Local's relationship with Councilor Ross, Chris Shannon commented: "Mike Ross' district covers a lot of Local 67s jurisdiction and so we've gotten to know him well in the community and in regards to City of Boston business. His district covers the Longwood Medical Area, Fenway Park and Kenmore Square, Northeastern University and into Mission Hill. City councilors play key roles in bringing new construction projects through the neighborhood process and have a huge influence on how these projects get built. Mike's position as president of the city council means he is involved with projects throughout the city. He has been a great friend of Local 67 and has worked diligently to make sure that union carpenters participate in City of Boston construction projects. We're happy to cooperate with him on the business side, but also when it comes to helping out in the community, where we both try to play leading roles."

Local 67 Executive Board members Chris Shannon, Jay Glynn, Vic Carrara, Mike Kerin, Pat Sugrue and Pat Donavan were joined by rank-and-file members Greg Rouse, Allen McCoy, Modesto Osario, Lorenzo Rusconi, Mike Lavoie, Terence O??Connor, Jimmy Moran, Pierre Calixte, Brian Sugrue, Don Gillis, Albert Robinson, Jeff Glynn, Brandon Lewis, Wayne Thompson, Richard Attardo, Jesus Silva, Daniel Bruto, Trevor Harrigan, Erica Ross, Wendell Sinaise, Erik Goodrich, Al Briggs, Steve Buckley, Dave Lewis, Paul Teahan, John Joyce, Yusif Ali, James Hendricks, Mario Kennard, Richard Diangio, Rob Clarke, Mathew Ward, Steven Feeney, Mark Dellascio, Paul Hagberg, Latisha McQueen, Issiah McQueen, Reggie Joseph, Devon Clark, and Almarie Condry.

Gravel Fill, Duct Bank Work Posted by on

Stone back fill was poured around the five storm water septor tanks. The stone allows the water to disperse slowly back into the ground.

This is a view from above looking down at the tanks. In the forefront of the shot the rebar located at the southwest portion of the pavilion. A concrete slab will be poured here for what will become the pavilion floor.

Additionally, electrical duct bank work was done this week. This provides electrical service from the street to the transformer pad located at the south side of the building under the future parking deck. Concrete will be poured between the Styrofoam forms seen here to encase the electrical conduit.

Water Tanks Installed, Mockups Fabricated Posted by on

This week, five storm water septor tanks were installed on site. The tanks will collect drainage from the roof and parking deck so the run off doesn't super charge the water system in the street and cause flooding. These tanks, by design, will slowly disperse water bank into the soil.

Form work for stairwell at the North end of the building continued. The hole seen here is from the original structure and will be filled in with concrete. The carpenter seen here is working on the forms.

12x16 Mockup panels were fabricated and are on display for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to display samples of the Alucabond Panels that will cover the exterior of the building as well as the windows. The mock ups will give the BRA an idea of the look and color of the completed building. They will be stay on site for the duration of the project.

A view from Dorchester Ave.

Feds send grant money for Wood Structures workers Posted by on

A rare bit of good news has come in for former employees of Wood Structures in Saco, Maine. US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced today that the Department of Labor is providing a grant of more than $600,000 for displacement services.

The State of Maine will administer the grant, which may provide "individual career counseling, skills assessment, and basic and occupational skills training," according to the DOL press release.

Bob Burleigh, an Industrial Representative serving Northern New England for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters said: "After two months of nothing but bad news, it is great to have something positive to tell the members affected by the plant shutdown and the bankruptcy. This grant will help these laid off workers get the training and other help that they may need to get back on their feet."

Wood Structures, a 40-year old company who's trusses and raw lumber have been used throughout New England and New York struggled with the collapse of the housing market. They attempted to reorganize their debt through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, but were forced to lay off the final 50 or so union carpenters in mid-March. They are likely looking at Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which involves liquidation of the company's assets.

Coming attractions Posted by on

Please watch this trailer for the short documentary, "Women in the Trades", coming May 16th, 2009! In the film, eighteen Connecticut women share their stories about entering the trades during the late 1970s/early 1980s.

The documentary will be featured at an event in Connecticut called "Thirty Years and Still Building: Connecticut's Groundbreaking Women Celebrate Their lives in the Trades." It is being organized by the Connecticut State Building Trades and the Permanent Commission of the Status of Women. The event will recognize the first generation of women to work full careers in the building trades and who have retired or are about to retire.

These women came into the trades at a time when their participation challenged industry norms and required major adjustments on the part of most participants.

Among the honorees will be carpenters electricians, laborers, pipefitters, teamsters, and a number of other trades. The event is being held Saturday, May 16 at Zandri's Stillwood Inn in Wallingford, CT. Tickets are $35 each and include full dinner. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Sylvia Michetti of Carpenters Local 24 at 860-442-6655.

Check back here after the event for a look at the full documentary.

Members join rally for Brockton plant, jobs Posted by on

Several hundred people, including union carpenters, members of the Building Trades and other union members braved the wind and rain last night to rally at Brockton City Hall in support of a proposal to build a natural gas plant in the city.

Brockton Clean Energy was being considered at a meeting of the Brockton City Council's Finance Committee. Construction of the project would create 300 union jobs for two years and provide necessary energy to the grid in Southeastern Massachusetts.

The event received coverage from the Brockton Enterprise in print and video form. See both at their site.

Members are encouraged to learn more about the project and contact elected officials in Brockton by visiting Brockton Clean

TAGS: Jobs, Local 624

Calling all Brockton area members: Rally Tuesday Posted by on

Members from all NERCC Local Unions that live south of Boston are asked to attend a massive rally to support Brockton Clean Energy, a proposed natural gas plant in Brockton. Members will gather at 6:00pm on Tuesday, April 21 in front of Brockton City Hall at 45 School St. to rally prior to a City Council??s meeting, which will consider the project.

Building the project will create 300 union construction jobs that will last 2 years. Thereafter, the plant will provide necessary energy and other economic benefits to the area. It has been approved by the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office and the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, which motioned 8-0 to approve the development. The Mayor and City Council members have said they will take their cue from the people.

Project developers have made a commitment to use union carpenters on a project that will benefit the community. We need to show our support for this project!

Route 24 to Exit 18A, Route 27 for 3 Miles to
45 School St (Downtown Brockton)
Parking at 90 Main St, 66 Green St or Downtown garage

Stairwell Formwork Posted by on

Crews completed the water proofing and ground insulation (seen here in blue) on the pavilion foundation and foundation wall of the first floor.

The concrete seen in the foreground of this picture (bottom right) is a retaining wall, which will carry a section of the parking deck and will retain backfilled earth.

This week, carpenters worked on additional forms for a future stairwell located at the front of the building (Dorchester Ave.)

Here is a shot from the front of the building before construction began.

This is what the front of the building looks like today:

In the coming week, crews will continue formwork, specifically at the site of the future loading dock.

Photo Slideshow - Concrete Posted by on

Connecting blue and green Posted by on

Some have traditionally tried to portray environmental causes as anti-business or too costly. But an interesting campaign in a former steel town in Pennsylvania is making a strong case for a connection between environmental protection and creation of traditional manufacturing jobs.

Named Carbon Caps=Hard Hats, it uses a charismatic Mayor who defies several stereotypes to make the case. There are several very effective video spots that have been produced.

Here's one of the ads. Others can be viewed here.

Here's a primer on Carbon Caps, excerpted from the site:

What is a carbon cap?
A Carbon Cap is a limit placed on carbon pollution. A national limit is set and carbon allowances (emission permits) are auctioned or allocated to companies. Companies that can reduce their emissions cheaply can make money by selling their extra allowances to others. This ensures overall emission reductions are achieved at low cost. And it gives everyone a profit motive to reduce pollution as much as possible. (Only large polluters are regulated under a Cap.)

New jobs americans [sic] can do tomorrow
Take the wind turbine. It??s a machine. Americans are good at machines. A typical wind turbine has 8,000 parts and is made of 250 tons of steel. Somebody??s got to make that steel, fabricate those parts, assemble those parts, deliver the assembled turbine to a wind farm, erect the turbine and manage the wind farm. That??s a lot of jobs right in the American workers?? sweet spot. And this is just one example. A Carbon Cap will create demand for energy efficient windows, LED lighting, ball bearings for turbines and thousands of other products. And by starting now, we??ll make sure these products are made here and exported all over the world. Instead of becoming more products we have to import.

New jobs create more jobs
Imagine a place like Braddock, Pennsylvania with new investments to supply clean energy industries. Once workers start bringing home paychecks, they start buying again. Making wind turbines is hungry work. The diner and the grocery store get busy again. The diner and grocery hire more workers. Those workers need clothes and cars and computers. Suddenly a dying town is a thriving community again.

TAGS: Jobs

Formwork, Concrete Pour Continues Posted by on

Placement of concrete continued this week and will continue next week.

Crews continued concrete work in the pavilion section of the Carpenters Center.

The laborer on the left in this picture is pouring concrete (from the pump truck slightly visible in the background) into the forms.

Carpenter Sean Patrick Abraham, Local 275, works on the forms.

In addition to the concrete work, the plumber has started the under slab drain lines and will continue into the coming weeks.

Water proofing of the new foundations and back fill will begin next week. Other projects scheduled to begin are the installation of brace frames on the first floor and added steel to the under side of the second floor in preparation for construction of the second and third floors.

Are American workers too passive? Why? Posted by on

The New York Times ran an interesting piece over the weekend comparing unions and workers in America with their counterparts in Europe. The article questions why European workers seem quicker to take to the streets and take other actions to protect their interests. One American union leader said the answer is that there are more effective ways to accomplish things.

What's missing is any kind of analysis or discussion about how effective the tactics here are, compared to "over there." But it is an interesting speculative article with a topic worth considering.

TAGS: Media, Unions

OSHA proposes $118k+ for fall hazards in CT Posted by on

OSHA has proposed in excess of $118,000 in fines for a Tennessee-based contractor working in Torrington, Connecticut. The fines are the result of "15 alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards," according to the OSHA press release.

"OSHA's inspection found employees working on scaffolding, in an aerial lift and on the roof at the 492 East Main St. worksite, were exposed to falls of up to 22 feet. The inspection also identified electrical, overhead and chemical hazard communication deficiencies at the worksite."
"Specifically, 4 Brothers, which also operates as VP Stucco Co. Inc., was issued six repeat citations, with $84,000 in proposed penalties, for no fall protection for employees in an aerial lift; lack of guardrails on the scaffold; employees climbing the scaffold's side and cross braces; employees not trained to recognize scaffold hazards; no protective helmets; and failing to have the scaffold erected and dismantled under the supervision of a competent person. OSHA cited the company in 2007 and 2008 for similar hazards at worksites in Concord, N.H., and Plainville, Conn.

"The Torrington inspection also resulted in nine serious citations, with $34,650 in proposed penalties, for employees working on a roof without fall protection; an improperly supported scaffold; unguarded walkways between scaffolds; using an ungrounded extension cord to power a mixing drill; and lack of a hazard communication program, training, material safety data sheets, and protective gloves for employees working with cement and hazardous chemicals. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
Emphasis added.

Video Update Posted by on

I'd like to thank you, ahead of time, for any extr... Posted by on

I'd like to thank you, ahead of time, for any extra work you can do above and beyond to beautify the Dorchester Ave sidewalk, our neighborhood needs it.

Formwork and Concrete Pour Posted by on

With the crushed stone poured and the ground graded, crews working for S. & F. Concrete began form work this week. Footings and steel reinforcing bar, also known as rebar, were put in to place (pictured below).

If a material with high strength in tension, such as steel, is placed in concrete, then the composite material, reinforced concrete, resists compression but also bending, and other direct tensile actions. A reinforced concrete section where the concrete resists the compression and steel resists the tension can be made into almost any shape and size for the construction industry. (

In this picture, Foreman for S. & F. Concrete Gifford Lawrence, Local 624, works on the support system for the concrete forms. He uses the sledgehammer to drive a strongback, which helps maintain vertical alignment.

The forms, the red steel in the picture above, have plywood faces. The plywood is sprayed with a releasing agent. When the concrete is set, metal clamps are released that keep the structure in place and the forms are removed, cleaned and reused.

The concrete was poured this afternoon.

For an interesting article on developments in concrete check out this NY Times article.

Audit: Bush safety program a failure Posted by on

Confirming what many in the field already knew, an audit by the Labor Department found that under the Bush administration, a highly touted OSHA program didn't do what it was supposed to, even before it was curtailed last year.

From a Washington Post story:

A special government program to improve worker safety in hazardous industries rarely fulfilled its promise, a Labor Department audit concluded yesterday, and over the past six years, dozens of deaths occurred at firms that should have been subjected to much tighter federal safety enforcement.

This on the heels of a report by the Government Accountability Office that the Labor Department's Wage and Hour division doesn't work very well at all and that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission violates their own employees' rights to overtime pay.

More vindication for those who sported 01.20.09 bumper stickers.

Roofer indicted for workers' comp violations Posted by on

Imagine getting hurt at work, then finding out your employer hadn't properly covered his people with workers compensation insurance? It's unfortunately an all-too-familiar scam pulled in the construction industry to lower costs.

There's really not much of a risk for the employer: they're not the ones hurt and stuck with a bill and enforcement has been notoriously lax. That last part is starting to change a bit, with an increased focus throughout the six New England states, especially.

This in the last week:

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against the owner of a contracting and roofing company in connection with not paying the proper workers?? compensation insurance by misclassifying his employees and filing false tax returns over a five-year period. Richard Copeland, age 43, of Blackstone, and owner of Copeland Contracting Inc. (CCI), is charged with Unemployment Fraud (20 counts), Larceny over $250 (4 counts), Aiding or Assisting in Fraudulent Tax Returns (60 counts), and Workers?? Compensation Fraud (3 counts).

Looking into concrete, literally Posted by on

The NYTimes has taken a look at efforts to make concrete more environmentally friendly. The efforts largely center on eliminating the use of Portland cement in the process.