ORGANIZING UP NORTH

 In Newsletter: Spring '24

I want to wish everyone a healthy and prosperous new 2024 year!! As we begin this 2024 year ahead, I’d like to highlight some of the work we have been able to accomplish and will continue to work on moving forward.

We originally had set out to make more of a presence in the northern states of NH, Maine, and Vermont. With this goal in mind, we started to make a difference and begin to show DC 35 is active and engaged. We recently were able to put together and pass a “Responsible Contractor Ordinance” in Manchester, New Hampshire which in turn begins to outline area standards for the community and those thinking about working and building in Manchester. In conjunction with this bold move, we begin to inform the public with an informational line against Avatar, an unscrupulous contractor that commits wage theft and makes its living off the backs of workers. These two events complimented each other at the same time, making a statement to the state of New Hampshire that DC 35 is a bottom-up organization that stands up for workers’ rights and we will change and make moves to make sure all workers are treated with dignity and respect. As we continue to create area standards in the region we try to open up opportunities for our signatories and try to push for general contractors that work with us. The Manchester Casino (Mint Gaming Hall) will be built with Dimeo Construction and our trades will be on the job. Creating hours and opportunities through political action and community is what this organizing department is working on using grassroots organizing. Moving further to the north in Maine, we are working closely with the building trades helping to negotiate a PLA (Project Labor Agreement) at 89 Elm Street Portland, Maine. To my knowledge, it’s been a long time since there was a PLA in place in Maine. At least there hasn’t been one since I’ve been involved in this labor movement. DC 35 and our signatories are chasing a lot of this work in the northern states, and we will be there to support them, organize new members, and create area standards and opportunities so we can capture and expand our market share.

100% union jobs are on the horizon for our District Council at the Curtis Apartments in Worcester. The Curtis Apartments were built from 1950-1954 and consist of 372 units that are over 70 years old. There are no elevators and no sprinklers. The complex has less than the required 5 % handicap units and the apartments are small with limited amenities. With an understanding of both the needs of their residents and the demand for more affordable housing, the Worcester Housing Authority started the process of procuring a developer to assist in the reimagining of the Curtis Apartments. Through the selection process, the WHA Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to hire Trinity Financial, which oversaw the transition of the old Worcester County Courthouse into the new Courthouse Lofts residential living space at Lincoln Square which was also 100% union. The project will create 529 new apartments at various income levels, including 53 fully accessible units. All buildings will be built to stretch code standards and have elevators, brand-new sprinklers, central air conditioning and heating, and a variety of amenities. The total anticipated cost is $360 million.

We are seeing our efforts in stepping into the residential market, where we never had any presence. We originally had the idea to do something about the injustice that was happening in that market and take on the opportunity to capture market share. We’ve brought in the new members of our union to meet the rest of the team and our BM/ST Christian Brennan, to share with them and welcome them as a group over the holidays to discuss the future and to answer any of the questions thus far. The interaction and fruits of our combined efforts and the conversations that took place, the sense of appreciation and the sense of belonging were felt through the air. We look forward to seeing what this venture and new members can do for this market and our union.

We’re also working on our internal organizing efforts to bring more women to our trades. We are working together with our signatories and pushing the industries to hire more women, as well as working together at the local, state, and federal level to bring these efforts to light. We have seen an increase in our membership with more women on the jobs and it’s something to celebrate. Tradeswomen Build Nations was an inspiring event for all our female rank-and-file members that brought all tradeswomen together for a summit to hear leaders, speakers, and politicians. The event was uplifting to all our sisters and everyone who participated. The stigma that women don’t belong in construction is in the rear-view mirror. Our sisters that participated are certainly our leading organizers to bring more rank-and-file members next year where we as an organization need to move the needle and try to organize more women into our trades.

Looking forward to 2024 bringing in more hours creating more opportunities for our members and signatory contractors. We are working to put together a resource line with the department for new companies or members who want to become signatories. We are also working with the FTI to develop a foreman training class and put together an estimating class to fill a need that new companies that recently became signatories and some current signatory companies have. As always this department will continue to Agitate, Educate, and Organize!!!

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