Presentation on theme: "Let us begin by stating that the Buffalo Building Trade Unions are a group of working men and women who earn their living in the construction industry."— Presentation transcript:
Let us begin by stating that the Buffalo Building Trade Unions are a group of working men and women who earn their living in the construction industry here in Western New York. Day in and day out, we report to jobsites in the area and perform the necessary tasks associated with our trades, in an honest effort to construct the best buildings possible in the most efficient method available.
Our wages and benefits are a matter of public record so as to insure the highest level of transparency to those government agencies that choose to do business with us. Together with our socially responsible contractors we operate on the core principle of a honest days work for a honest days wage and as a result we have been a true positive economic force on the Western New York construction industry. To help people understand the real importance of the Buffalo Building Trades, we have prepared an ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY which is available for your review
It is our hope that after a review of the facts, people will have a better understanding of our issues and why they are important to us, as well as the community. The following topics are issues which are constantly presented in the media anytime someone attempts to discredit who we are and what we are about.
Prevailing Wage An honest days wage for an honest days work. This is the founding principle behind prevailing wage laws, which date back to 1891 in the United States. That is when the state of Kansas instituted the first such law. Forty years later, in 1931, the United States Congress passed a law, the Davis-Bacon Act, requiring that established prevailing wage requirements on all public works projects. The measure was passed in order to guarantee jobs for local workers on construction projects. Today, 32 states have prevailing wage laws in place for public construction projects. These laws do more than guarantee the hard working men and women of the construction industry their right to fair compensation. Prevailing Wage laws also protect the owner of all public construction projects – the taxpayer.
Prevailing Wage The absence of Prevailing Wage laws opens the door for lower- cost and less-skilled contractors, often from out of the area, to bid on public projects. Studies have shown that public projects not governed by Prevailing Wage laws are significantly more susceptible to decreased productivity and, ultimately, increased costs and prolonged construction timelines. Furthermore, worker safety is often compromised on non- Prevailing Wage projects, putting workers in jeopardy and leading to a marked increase in work- related industries. In some cases in Western New York over the past few years, projects not protected by Prevailing Wage stipulations have experienced worker fatalities.
Beyond protecting workers and the taxpayers, Prevailing Wage laws also help strengthen the local economy. States that have repealed Prevailing Wage laws have suffered a sharp decline in workers wages and employers contributions to pension and health benefit plans. As a result, income and sales tax revenues fell and there was less money recycled into the local economy. Every community deserves quality projects delivered on time and on budget. To learn more about how Prevailing Wage laws help make that happen, click here. Prevailing Wage
Apprentice Programs Transferring skills from one generation to the next is a tradition whose practice dates back to the times of ancient Babylon. In fact, the histories of Egypt, Greece and Rome show that workers regularly taught their crafts to youth, who would later become master craftsmen. This practice was the precursor for what we call apprenticeship. The success of the Buffalo Building & Construction Trades Council comes from our ability to provide trained skilled professionals to complete every facet of every job. Training and Apprentice Programs are at the heart of our long history. Each member trade of the Buffalo Building & Construction Trace Council maintains a training facility that trains apprentices on all aspects of each individual trade. The training centers also provide both journeymen and apprentices up to date training in safety and new industry advances.
Apprentice Programs Each year, the trades spend more than $3.5 million with local vendors and suppliers on training programs personnel and supplies. The training programs are provided and funded in-house by the member unions at no cost to the taxpayer. We make this investment because we know that a properly trained workforce produces results in the productivity, safety and performance of every construction project. The Buffalo Building & Construction Trades Council members provide new job opportunities for between 100-125 local individuals every year. Our training programs allow then to learn a trade while remaining in the area. In the end, this helps ensure that a strong, growing skilled workforce is always available to work on local projects. There are currently 59 county, local government and New York City-area Apprentice Programs in place across New York State. To learn more about how Apprentice Programs benefit the local community, click here.
Lowest Responsible Bidder The bidding system is designed to ensure that construction projects are completed in the most cost-efficient manner possible. But, is the lowest price always the best? Unqualified bidders can lead to project delays and cost over-runs due to substandard craftsmanship and practices. For example, a public works contract for asbestos abatement in Erie County was awarded to the lowest bidder in 2006. As it turned out, the contractor was unqualified to perform the work. The contractor utilized undocumented aliens with falsified asbestos abatement licenses on the project and ended up contaminating the job site and surrounding areas with asbestos. A later review showed the contractors work history was littered with civil judgments and various health and safety violation s.
Lowest Responsible Bidder The damage caused by this irresponsible bidder could have been averted through the further screening permitted under the Lowest Responsible Bidder process. The Lowest Responsible Bidder Process, which is available under New York State law, allows local governments, public authorities and public benefit corporations to dutifully screen project bidders to ensure that contractors who receive public contracts are qualified to perform the work for which they bid. The process is an efficient and effective way to weed out unqualified firms before they are put on the job. Dont let irresponsible contractors to cut corners on the projects you are paying for. To read more about the Lowest Responsible Bidder process and its benefits, click here.
Wicks Law Wicks Law is a measure that requires public construction projects above a pre- established cost threshold ($500,000 for Upstate New York) to let separate contracts for general contracting, plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning, and electrical work. The law, which dates back to 1921, was enacted to promote competition and to protect workers rights – priorities that the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council continues to fight for to this day. Results have shown that the use of separate contracts has produced significant cost savings over single contract projects. One of the main reasons for the cost savings is that Wicks Law keeps the overall responsibility for project cost and performance with the projects owner, rather than allowing the contractor to control the cost. This helps protect the owners vested interest in the project. Many special interest groups are now looking to capitalize on the current economic crisis facing New York State by promising cost savings associated with the repeal of Wicks Law. Their promises are unsubstantiated by the facts.
Wicks Law Without Wicks Law, contractors will be free to mark-up the costs associated with keeping a project running smoothly and to pass those increases on to the owner, and ultimately the taxpayer. Competition would also be severely compromised by eliminating the protections that Wicks Law provides. Without soliciting separate bids for projects, there would be fewer contractors who would be able to afford to bid on all aspects of a project. This would leave only larger companies in line to handle the work. Having less competition seriously hinders the owners ability to control overall cost and allows contractors to significantly mark up their project bids. One only needs to look at private industry to see the effectiveness of the separate bid principles established by Wicks Law. Many private companies, who live and die by bottom line success, use separate bids to complete their projects because it is the most cost- effective way to complete projects on time and on budget. Separate bids protect the bottom line. More information on this important subject is available here.
Project Labor Agreements Project schedule, labor relations and cost are some of the overriding factors that the owner must consider at the start of every construction project. Unexpected schedule delays or extensions can have adverse repercussions on the overall cost of the project and become a significant hardship for the owner. One effective way to protect against such issues is through the use of a Project Labor Agreement. A Project Labor Agreement is a negotiated agreement that identifies and addresses the many factors that make for a smooth construction process. Such agreements have been found to be particularly helpful in establishing work site harmony, work schedules and hours, pay scales and the resolution of disputes that may arise throughout the project timeline. A Project Labor Agreement also provides protection to the local community by requiring the owner to use an agreed upon percentage of local workers and to maintain compliance with all Minority and Woman-owned Business Enterprise goals. Project Labor Agreements can also have a positive impact on your competitive bidding process by providing a single collective bargaining agreement and removing any labor uncertainties. As a result, you may see enhanced competition since all bidders will be on a level playing field.
Project Labor Agreements Executive Order No. 49 issued by the Governor of the State of New York requires state agencies to use Project Labor Agreements on projects when they are appropriate and legal. Similarly, a Presidential Executive Order was issued in 2009 encouraging the use of PLAs on federal projects worth $25 million or more. The order notes the success of Project Labor Agreements in promoting the efficient and timely completion of large-scale projects and in preventing many of the difficulties inherent in such construction. However, Project Labor Agreements are not strictly used for public construction projects, nor are they used only for union contractors. Many private businesses have successfully used Project Labor Agreements on their projects with a mix of union and non-union workers, achieving optimum results. Project Labor Agreements have been used on numerous projects throughout Western New York, including the expansion of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the building of the new Erie County Court facilities, the construction of the new WNED-TV television studios and the $1 Billion reconstruction of numerous buildings throughout the Buffalo Public School system. For more information on how Project Labor Agreements can help your next construction project, click here.
IDA Reform In 1969, New York State created a number of public benefit corporations whose purpose was to promote, develop and assist development projects in their communities that would create jobs and investment and enhance the economic well-being of the community. These public benefit corporations are called Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs). Today, IDAs provide myriad businesses with financial assistance and incentives in the form of tax exemptions and tax- exempt bond financing in exchange for job creation commitments. The incentives provided by IDAs across New York State amount to hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
IDA Reform However, data provided by the IDAs to the New York State Comptroller clearly shows that New Yorkers are not getting their moneys worth from the companies being provided with IDA assistance. Many companies have failed to live up to their job creation commitments and, in some instances, companies have actually reduced jobs after receiving IDA incentives. Other companies have failed completely. Our IDAs need to become a more effective conduit for positive economic development across the Empire State. This is why the Buffalo Building & Construction Trades Council supports a series of comprehensive IDA reforms. A key component of reforming our IDAs is the establishment of solid business standards for all projects that receive IDA assistance. Such business standards would include:
Prevailing wage and living wage standards that provide workers with fair compensation. These wage provisions will help ensure that sufficient dollars are fed back into the local economy to keep it strong. It is bad economic development policy to subsidize and support low-wage employers, thereby leaving the local taxpayers on the hook not only for the subsidies, but also for the social programs that that workers will need to depend upon to support themselves and their families (i.e. Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) Regional hiring requirements and apprenticeship programs that provide jobs and training for local workers. Having local workers employed on IDA-assisted projects provides the community with a return on investment for the tax dollars lost through the IDA incentives. Apprenticeship programs ensure that the community has a strong, growing skilled workforce. High-performance building and environmental standards that encourage quality, sustainable growth and promote efficient land use and planning principles.
In addition to these reform measures, we also support: Clawback provisions that enable the local community to recoup incentives provided to companies that fail to live up to their job creation commitments. We should refuse to bankroll empty promises. Increased community reporting requirements that allow the public to see how IDA-funded projects are performing and what they community is receiving in return for incentives via new job creation. Anti-raiding measures that promote true new job growth rather than job shifting from one area of the state or community to another. To learn more about the IDA reform proposals currently being discussed, click here.