ORGANIZING OUR INDUSTRY BY JORGE RIVERA
Our department has been infused with new blood, and every single organizer is eager to be involved in this labor movement. We are a very diverse group, and everyone brings something different to this movement. I’m very lucky to be part of this group and eager to see what we can accomplish together to ensure we make a difference for our members and capitalize on the bright future ahead. This Department is ready to work alongside the other departments as one team, as all of us rally together behind new Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer Chris Brennan.
Every political season is crazy and most of the time down to the wire. Our votes count. We are always preaching to get out and vote and are always preaching to get involved because elections have consequences. All our endorsed candidates across the board in Massachusetts and in New Hampshire secured their spots thanks to your votes, the work of the Political Department and the Organizing Department, our member volunteers knocking on doors, and many standouts. This was a great test for the Organizing Department to get involved in the fight of this labor movement with these great wins. We need to build on them and hold these candidates’ feet to the fire so they help us secure work in the future. These wins are a good foundation for us to capitalize on infrastructure grants coming, where we can lean on these political figures so we can get work opportunities for our members and future members. Together with the FTI training department and Eric Redding, we can make sure we are involved in bringing in apprentices from the Vocational Tech Schools and pre-apprenticeship programs, maybe even looking into creating pre-apprenticeship programs for our trades. We will help expand the FTI’s reach with workforce development boards to help create pipelines for our apprenticeship programs. These political wins have laid a great foundation and a pathway for our future.
Another campaign we are focusing on is the state of Maine. We currently have two large projects with glass companies performing in the Maine Medical and Ogunquit Museum projects. There are a lot of great opportunities in Maine to expand our market and grow membership. There are a lot of union-friendly GCs in the area looking for responsible contractors. A&A Window is a NACC-certified company pursuing a lot of the upcoming work in educational facilities and public work that has these requirements. Biddeford, Maine is renovating three schools that require the NACC certification, and we will chase the work to grow our market and organize the local area. We are seeing other opportunities for the NACC certification in Massachusetts, too, and we are chasing those leads so we can continue to capitalize on our previous ruling from the attorney general on this certification. The construction boom in Maine also carries some residential market with it. We are meeting with other GCs that are currently in the area so we can get work opportunities to organize the local area to pursue residential drywall finishing and painting for these types of projects. We currently have a few companies from all trades in the Maine and New Hampshire area that are willing to capture some of this work. We also started to create a database of the workforce from the area and from New Hampshire willing to travel to Maine to capture some of these work hours.
Our residential program has started to see some real traction while turning one of the projects from an open shop. We were able to do it with Universal Drywall and were able to sign up 20 new residential drywall finishers to work on the Avalon project in Brighton and at DOT Block. Soep Painting is also getting involved in the program between DOT Block and Union Square in Somerville. There are about 12 new residential painters working on these projects, bringing a total of 32 newly organized residential members in an industry in which we were never a competitor. It’s a vision that started with the top leaders of this district council and I’m happy to report that so far, we have had great success.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Chris Brennan as the new Business Manager and to let everyone know the organizing department is rallying around Chris and getting behind him to make sure the members after us continue to prosper from their hard work and for us to work towards the vision of a brighter future.
Jeff Sullivan, thank you for the opportunity. I don’t know what you saw in me when you gave me the opportunity. You have awakened something in me that was dormant, but I’m rejuvenated to do this work. It’s something that I can’t turn off because of your support and believing in me; the District Council has gotten some good wins and we have been able to move the needle to our advantage. Thank you for your leadership, mentorship, support, and your friendship.
Thank you to Tony Hernandez and Jeff Sullivan, two great leaders! Congratulations on your retirement and enjoy your next chapter!
WORKING IN THE WEST
We have been working with the Worcester Housing Authority and developer Trinity Financial. We have been able to lock in about $178 million in renovations for the Curtis Apartments in Great Brook Valley. This will be done with 100 percent Union participation. Governor Baker originally had set a roadblock for this project and some initial funding, the funding to get this off the ground went through the House and the Senate, got approved, and we are back on track to build this project and recently changed the scope to now build 470 units. This will create an opportunity for future development partnerships with the WHA. Some of the other work coming out is public and we need to double our efforts in bringing our signatory contractors to bid in this area. The Doherty High School start date for our trades was delayed due to a fire on the roof and some construction material delayed from other trades. Much of the concern from the GC and H. Carr is the compliance requirements, which for DC 35 are a non-issue due to the groundwork based on the pipelines we have put together to draw from the community to meet these requirements. The NERB project with Shawmut is still a little ways out from beginning, as well as WuXi pharmaceutical, which has not been awarded yet. Some of the other work that is still in the pipeline is LiUNA’s training facility in Hopkinton, Clark University, and the NERB Project at UMass Medical in Worcester. The president of Holy Cross finally reached out to meet with us. We have a verbal agreement to continue to work with the unions if we maintain communication so we can capture some of the residential work coming out to stay competitive in that market and try to keep open shop companies out. If there are large construction projects, we will be working under the commercial agreement leaning heavily to meet compliance on large projects. Table Talk has started conversations with us for opportunities. Cranshaw has committed to give us the last look to be competitive, being a wood frame structure and a private development we will need to use our residential rates to capture our trades.
UMass Amherst is doing work and upgrading, and much of the relationship with Egan and DC 35 has secured a lot of good hours in some projects and some maintenance agreements. The compliance officer for UMass has been pushing for compliance in which we have built pipelines with Building Pathways and Community Works from UMass. They are also looking to create a training or forum for MBE/WMBE companies to capture some of this upcoming work. I’ll be working hand-in-hand to secure spots for our certified companies so we can get opportunities on all facilities by UMass. The work might be in UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Amherst and in UMass Medical.