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Hard Work, Commitment Keep Brotherhood Strong Posted by on

UBC Ready to Withstand Any Challenge
A message from UBC General President Douglas McCarron

"Be grateful the Brotherhood took President John F. Kennedy's advise that, "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."

Over the past several years, our union has done exactly that, putting our house in order by rethinking everything we do.

We modernized the UBC's structure and invested heavily in training members and staff. We reinvigorated our efforts to help the union grow and took a seat at the table with our Carpenters Politics.

As difficult as these times are, they would be even worse had the UBC not displayed the courage to make tough choices and the determination to see them through.

While economic recovery depends on wise government policies and time, only we can make sure that the UBC is ready when that day arrives--and arrive it will. In the last 129 years, our union has not just endured financial panics, recessions, inflation, deflation, a Depression, and two world wars but we rose to the challenge and emerged stronger.

To make tomorrow better than today, we need to ensure that our members are trained, that our union administration is efficient and effective, and that politicians are aware that carpenters vote.

As we take measure of these challenging times and the continued uncertainties that lie ahead, we need to remember that we are better prepared to face the future than any generation that has come before us in the UBC's proud history.

The Brotherhood remains a strong, confident organization that can withstand any challenge. Whether it's in the field or in our offices, the UBC is home to the most dedicated, best trained people I've come across in organized labor and the construction industry.

Our union's best days are ahead, but getting there requires hard work and continued commitment to the ideals of the Brotherhood. Realizing that we have been preparing for this moment will not make the task any easier, but it does give us the confidence to know that we will prevail.


Major change for annuity withdrawal rules Posted by on

The Board of Trustees for the New England Carpenters Benefit Funds has made a significant change in the Guaranteed Annuity Fund rules relating to withdrawals. The change, which goes into effect August 1, 2010 was sent to members in a mailing and reads as follows:

??If no Employer Contributions are received on your behalf for twelve (12) consecutive calendar months, you are eligible to apply for withdrawal of 50% of your account balance up to a maximum of $50,000; whichever is less.

Due to the difficult economic times in the past few years, the Board felt that this change would benefit the members who are facing financial hardship.

You must understand that if you do apply for withdrawal, the amount you receive will be subject to the mandatory 20% Federal Tax and 5.3% Massachusetts State Tax. You may also be subject to a 10% Federal penalty if you are under age 55.

For withdrawal forms, please contact the Fund Office at 1-800-344-1515.??

TAGS: Benefits

Nihtila Retires; RFQ for New Director Posted by on

Dick Nihtila has decided to retire from his position as Director of the New England Carpenters Training Program in Millbury. Dick served in this position for six years and we appreciate his dedication and leadership. We wish him well in his future endeavors.

Below you will find a RFQ for the position. Any members who may be qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.

NECTP Board member Bert Rousseau will serve as interim administrator until a new Director is selected.



Position: Director of an 80,000 sq. ft facility that trains carpenter apprentices from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

Candidates need to have a working knowledge of the mission and goals of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, and their affiliated local unions. Candidates need to be familiar with adult education as well as bookkeeping, finance, and money management. Candidates need to be computer literate and have the ability to work with community and political organizations.

Primary responsibilities:
Administration and supervision:
Supervise office staff and instructors
Work with apprentices
Establish training schedules and enforce all policies established by Board of Trustees
Report to Board of Trustees at monthly meetings

Program development:
Develop curriculum in conjunction with UBC International Training Center
Identify and pursue available training grants
Develop goals, work plans, and evaluations of staff and students

Fiscal management:
Develop and manage annual budgets
Supervise bookkeeping and financial reports
Maintain currency of all required insurances
Administer asset allocation as directed by the Board

Salary based on experience and qualifications

Please submit letters of interest and resumes by September 17, 2010 to:

Celia McDonough (assistant to Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich)
New England Regional Council of Carpenters
750 Dorchester Ave.
Boston, MA 02125

TAGS: Training

Carpenters Center recognized as special part of Dorchester neighborhood Posted by on

Earl Taylor, special correspondant to the Dorchester Reporter, recognizes the Carpenters Center as an important landmark and part of the neighborhood's history.

When they hear that I??m from Dorchester, new acquaintances tell me they know they are in my neighborhood when they see the painted gas tank as they drive along the Southeast Expressway. This shallow impression of Dorchester feels nearly as much of an insult as the frequency of crime news in Dorchester even when the address identified is clearly in Roxbury or the South End. But when life gives me lemons, I know how to make lemonade. So let??s jump into the SUV and view Dorchester history from the landmarks along the Expressway.

Dorchester, with three exits going south on the Expressway and four going north, is the largest of Boston??s neighborhoods. Some state capitals have fewer exits. Of course, we have to decide what Dorchester includes. Statisticians refer to North Dorchester, South Dorchester, and Mattapan. All three of these were part of the town of Dorchester when it was annexed to Boston on January, 1, 1870. The same territory is divided into five zip codes -- 02121, 02122, 02124, 02125, and 02126, and its 127,000 residents who live in 23,000 buildings are represented by many city councilors and numerous state representatives. The area is very diverse in all categories of age, gender, and ethnic origin. If Dorchester were a separate city it would be New England??s sixth most populous exceeding even New Haven in Connecticut. Portland, Maine, comes in at about only 64,000 residents, Concord, New Hampshire at about only 40,700.

Traveling south through Boston, coming out of the tunnel we first begin to rise to the crest of the highway. Looking off to the left after the huge parking garage we can see a white tower on top of a hill called Dorchester Heights, reminding us that South Boston was part of Dorchester until the major piece of it broke off in 1804 and Washington Village followed in 1854. The monument commemorates the fortification of Dorchester Heights when the Neck (South Boston) was still part of Dorchester. The action scared the Brits so much they decided to scurry off to Nova Scotia, leaving us to celebrate Evacuation Day (St. Patrick??s Day).

When the highway begins to descend back to ground level, we notice the low flat area that was once Boston??s South Bay, a tidal inlet that has disappeared under the T bus garages and the South Bay Shopping Center on the west. Dorchester, on the southern border of the old South Bay, once had a coastline/waterfront stretching from Mill Brook Creek, separating Roxbury and Dorchester at the southern end of the South Bay, around Dorchester Neck (South Boston), the Calf Pasture (Columbia Point), Savin Hill, Commercial Point and Port Norfolk where the Neponset separated Dorchester from its southern neighbors Quincy and Milton, the latter of which was once part of Dorchester. In its early years Dorchester had a number of water-powered mills, both river mills and tide mills. To operate a tide mill, the miller created a dam with gates in an inlet. When the tide came in, the gates would swing inward to allow the flow to fill the pond. When the tide turned, the force of the water would close the gates, and the miller could use the water in the pond to power his mill.

The new building of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters sitting on the west side of the highway is a reminder that Dorchester is home to many labor union locals and other employee organizations.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Lending (skilled) helping hands Posted by on

Carpenters Local Union 275's Volunteer Organizing Committee volunteered to build the deck and install the chairlift to help a struggling family in Natick.

The family has a fourteen year old boy Dougie with Autism and Duchene??s Muscular Dystrophy and has been wheelchair bound since January 2008. They needed a deck built on to the back of their house and a chairlift to take him down to the backyard so he could enjoy the yard with his brothers and sisters. Prior to the chairlift being build he had to be carried down by two adults which was very difficult and sometimes impossible as he is growing up.

The following members volunteered over a combined 150hours!! Bruce Whitney, Ricky Scales, Ron Brown, Mike Rogers, Brian Rogers, Rick Mills, John Brennan, Tyler Brenan, Kelly Calkins, Shane Rosenquist, Dorson Ace, Phil Frank, Mike Cormier, Jason Linton, TJ Gallant and Rick Ilsley with organization and George Benjamin with taking all the pictures.

The V.O.C. believes it is very important to be active in our own communities and our members participate in several Volunteer activities throughout the year!

More pictures available here.

Also, see coverage in the MetroWest Daily News.

State finds more wage violations Posted by on

Dex by Terra and Daniel Terra, individually are paying workers more than $16,000 and $3500 in fines to the state for violation of state wage and payroll records laws.

The company failed to pay the proper prevailing wages to numerous employees on projects for the Lexington DPW and Concord Willard School from June of 2008 through October of 2009, the state found. Investigators had been alerted to violations by New England Regional Council of Carpenters Organizers after they had visited job sites and talked to workers.

The civil penalties resulted from their failure to pay workers the proper wage and failure to keep and submit payroll records as mandated by law.

Construction activity at UMass campuses Posted by on

The Boston Globe did a story over the weekend about the aggressive building program at the University of Massachusetts, state-wide. While projects all over the state are stalled or canceled--including a major Harvard development--UMass is going full steam ahead.

NERCC's Mark Erlich is quoted in the piece.

Flooring contractor hit by Mass AG Posted by on

Santangelo Flooring and Mark Santangelo individually have been ordered to pay fines totaling $1500 and pay back workers money they are owed as a result of the company??s violating prevailing wage laws in Massachusetts.

The violations occurred on several public jobs in the Commonwealth, mostly in 2009. NERCC Organizers found workers were not being paid properly and reported it to the state, which led to the investigation and workers being paid a total of close to $7,000.

Cheating at CT hospital not a surprise Posted by on

To union carpenters and honest contractors, it's an all too familiar story, even if it's not reported in the press often enough. A job goes out to bid and several union and nonunion contractors put in bids. Costs will be the same for materials, equipment, insurance and other items. But when the bids are opened most of the bid prices are clustered together, while one or two are dramatically lower. The owner looks only at the bottom line on the bid and grabs the rock bottom price.

More often than not the result of the lowball bid is one of two things: the contractor missing something in the bid, which will result in back-charging the owner or labor costs being illegally lowered on the job because subcontractors will be misclassifying workers or not paying workers at all.

The second scenario was likely in Norwalk, Connecticut and led to a state-ordered shutdown American Cancer Society's C. Anthony and Jean Whittingham Family Building, which was reported in the Norwalk Hour.

The 13,000 square foot building was less than a month from its groundbreaking when the Department of Labor visited the site and found workers being paid in cash and having no contributions made to workers' compensation on their behalf and no state or federal taxes being paid. There were also discrepancies in the way the workers and the company identified workers on the job.

Local 210 Business Agent Glenn Marshall told the Hour he had conversations with other bidders on the job and suspected there would be problems on the job based on the winning bid.

"I talked to the other contractors and they said they didn't know how you could (construct the building) at that price," he said.

Work for pay. Simple concept, no? Posted by on

In what is becoming an disturbingly common occurrence, construction workers in Boston are walking a strike line in an attempt to get paid for work performed. The latest strike is in Brookline, Massachusetts, where a group of workers are owed up to five full weeks of pay for work they performed at the Longwood Towers.

New Haven Drywall was hired to do drywall work for the project and may have subcontracted the work to a "coyote" or another company. One thing is clear: workers are having their wages stolen.

Be clear: this is not a case of workers striking for higher wages or work that went to someone else. These workers did the work they were asked to do and are seeking the wages they were promised for that work.

File under: Why unions are still necessary.

Wicked Local covers here.

NERCC standing up for ALL carpenters Posted by on

A group of construction workers, hired by Universal Contracting, a subcontractor hired by J.J. Welch of Salem, MA, were not paid for their work on the site of a Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation construction site. Organizers from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters help the non-union workers organize and strike in order to demand their pay from JJ Welch, after Universal ran out on the job.

Herald's Woodlief on Brown, unemployment Posted by on

NERCC ES-T Mark Erlich is quoted in a piece by the Boston Herald's Wayne Woodlief, who cautions Senator Scott Brown not to insist on the perfect if it's the enemy of the good.

TAGS: Government

As Seen on the LED Posted by on

Unemployment benefit expansion: the heartless, the clueless and the confused Posted by on

An interesting perspective from Paul Krugman's Op-Ed piece published in the New York Times over the weekend.

Punishing the Jobless
New York Times
Paul Krugman
July 4, 2010

There was a time when everyone took it for granted that unemployment insurance, which normally terminates after 26 weeks, would be extended in times of persistent joblessness. It was, most people agreed, the decent thing to do.

But that was then. Today, American workers face the worst job market since the Great Depression, with five job seekers for every job opening, with the average spell of unemployment now at 35 weeks. Yet the Senate went home for the holiday weekend without extending benefits. How was that possible?

The answer is that we??re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it??s possible to clear up some of the confusion.

By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do ?? including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation??s economic pain ?? improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don??t pretend to be shocked: you know they??re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus.

By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: ??You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn??t pay as much. We??ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.??

Now, I don??t have the impression that unemployed Americans are spoiled; desperate seems more like it. One doubts, however, that any amount of evidence could change Ms. Angle??s view of the world ?? and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people in our political class just like her.

But there are also, one hopes, at least a few political players who are honestly misinformed about what unemployment benefits do ?? who believe, for example, that Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, was making sense when he declared that extending benefits would make unemployment worse, because ??continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.?? So let??s talk about why that belief is dead wrong.

Do unemployment benefits reduce the incentive to seek work? Yes: workers receiving unemployment benefits aren??t quite as desperate as workers without benefits, and are likely to be slightly more choosy about accepting new jobs. The operative word here is ??slightly??: recent economic research suggests that the effect of unemployment benefits on worker behavior is much weaker than was previously believed. Still, it??s a real effect when the economy is doing well.

But it??s an effect that is completely irrelevant to our current situation. When the economy is booming, and lack of sufficient willing workers is limiting growth, generous unemployment benefits may keep employment lower than it would have been otherwise. But as you may have noticed, right now the economy isn??t booming ?? again, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening. Cutting off benefits to the unemployed will make them even more desperate for work ?? but they can??t take jobs that aren??t there.

Wait: there??s more. One main reason there aren??t enough jobs right now is weak consumer demand. Helping the unemployed, by putting money in the pockets of people who badly need it, helps support consumer spending. That??s why the Congressional Budget Office rates aid to the unemployed as a highly cost-effective form of economic stimulus. And unlike, say, large infrastructure projects, aid to the unemployed creates jobs quickly ?? while allowing that aid to lapse, which is what is happening right now, is a recipe for even weaker job growth, not in the distant future but over the next few months.

But won??t extending unemployment benefits worsen the budget deficit? Yes, slightly ?? but as I and others have been arguing at length, penny-pinching in the midst of a severely depressed economy is no way to deal with our long-run budget problems. And penny-pinching at the expense of the unemployed is cruel as well as misguided.

So, is there any chance that these arguments will get through? Not, I fear, to Republicans: ??It is difficult to get a man to understand something,?? said Upton Sinclair, ??when his salary?? ?? or, in this case, his hope of retaking Congress ?? ??depends upon his not understanding it.?? But there are also centrist Democrats who have bought into the arguments against helping the unemployed. It??s up to them to step back, realize that they have been misled ?? and do the right thing by passing extended benefits.

TAGS: Government, Media

The truth about PLA's Posted by on

The following Op-Ed piece by Mark Erlich was published in The Boston Globe on Saturday, July 3, 2010. You can read the article online by clicking here.

LAST MONTH the University of Massachusetts Building Authority voted to put the proposed $750 million overhaul of UMass Boston??s campus under a project labor agreement that would require the use of unionized workers. The reflex reaction of hostile voices was predictable. ??This is the kind of thing,???? said Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, ??that makes people crazy about state government.????

A flurry of newspaper columns and radio rants revived the standard anti-PLA view that these agreements exclude the majority of potential contractors and add expense to a project. The problem with these arguments is that they are fundamentally wrong. Comments like Baker??s are what make people crazy about ideological screeds based on flawed research.

PLA critics like to claim that 80 percent of the construction workforce is non-union. This is based on Census figures where occupational identities are self-described and where handymen and summer house painters are considered part of the workforce. It does not reflect the real numbers of career trades workers in commercial, institutional, industrial, and highway construction ?? the only parts of the industry where PLAs are ever applied.

A far better indicator is to consider the presence of union firms in non-residential construction based on a review of Dodge Reports, the most comprehensive source of information in the industry. According to the Carpenters Labor Management Program??s analysis of the 2009 Dodges, 65 percent of the dollar value of Massachusetts projects was attributable to union contractors.

Furthermore, PLAs are used only on large projects where the complexity typically demands the sophistication of a sizable company. That universe is overwhelmingly union, as confirmed by the recent Boston Business Journal list in which 23 of the largest 25 general contractors in the area have collective bargaining agreements.

It is also simply not true that non-union firms cannot participate in public PLA projects. Any company can bid and use its existing labor force, as long as it is prepared to comply with the terms of the PLA, a situation that non-union contractors resist because it raises expectations for their traditionally lower-paid workers.

The claim about added costs is based on a 2003 Beacon Hill Institute report that concluded that there was a $32- per-square-foot premium on public schools built with PLAs. After an initial rush of favorable publicity, economists from Michigan State University and the University of Rhode Island analyzed the report and determined that the estimates were ??inflated and unreliable.???? The authors of the report had based their calculations on bid prices rather than final costs, failed to compensate for urban vs. suburban sites, ignored some schools that were built with PLAs and included others that never had PLAs.

The Beacon Hill Institute was forced to issue a revised report that reduced the PLA ??premium???? by 40 percent. Even then, critics utilized the institute??s own data to demonstrate that there was no appreciable difference between construction costs on PLA and non-PLA schools.

On one level, this can be seen as an academic squabble over a poorly designed study. Unfortunately, the study results still serve as gospel in certain circles and have become uncritically accepted as a legitimate part of public policy discussions. Reviewing the entire debate at the time, Peter Cockshaw, the widely respected independent construction industry commentator wrote that there is ??no solid data from any study to prove PLAs cost more or non-PLAs cost less????.

PLAs are not designed for the expansion of Aunt Martha??s deck. They have been used on large public projects as well as private buildings for Harvard, Partners, and the Museum of Fine Arts where owners seek a level of comfort regarding scheduling, training, workforce diversity, productivity, uninterrupted work progress, and known costs. The courts have looked favorably on the agreements, particularly in cases when a project??s ??size, complexity, and duration???? are an issue.

It is frustrating to hear the same tired arguments repeated and, to a surprising degree, accepted. But there are political points to be scored and, as is so often the case in public debate, some folks don??t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Mark Erlich is the executive secretary-treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

TAGS: Media, Pla

As Seen on the LED Posted by on

As Seen on the LED Posted by on