President's Message: Investing in Schools and Keep Organizing
Our Nation’s infrastructure is in shambles. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a report called “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future,” which grades the current state of national infrastructure on a scale of A through F. The most recent report gave America a grade of D for failing to address the growing gap between infrastructure needs and investment. Maintaining and rebuilding infrastructure is critical to our economy. It impacts our economic productivity and our ability to compete in the global market. It also effects our safety and quality of life.
Although gridlock seems to characterize the state of our government in Washington, there is potential for bipartisan agreement on investing in our nation’s infrastructure. The Congress and President Trump have identified infrastructure as a priority. Investing in infrastructure is urgently needed, and will create jobs, boost the economy and strengthen the middle class.
While many think of infrastructure as roads and bridges and other transportation related categories, it also includes our schools. It is critically important that our nation’s young people have access to a quality education in buildings that are safe and conducive to learning. That is why I was proud to join with Congressman Robert C. Scott (D-VA) and Senator Jack Reid (D-RI) to celebrate the introduction of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (see page 14). If enacted and fully funded, the Rebuild America’s Schools Act would create nearly two million new jobs, many of which would go to our members.
As you know, organizing new members and contractors is a priority for our Union. I’m pleased to report that BAC Locals and ADCs signed over 80 new contractors in 2018 who have already reported work hours. That doesn’t include contractors who were already signed in other Local unions areas, or contractors that signed project only agreements or about 20 additional contractors that have yet to report work hours. No, that’s over 80 signatories that are completely new to BAC, that are paying wages and benefits to our members today, and who were brought in through your efforts.
Some came in thanks to relentless top-down meetings, while others signed because of grassroots organizing of their craftworkers. Some are small shops that only employ the owner and a helper, while others have aspirations to dominate their market. Some brought in entire crews of new members when they signed, while others needed access to our existing membership. But they all have one important thing in common: every single new contractor that we organize provides new work opportunities to our members and eliminates work opportunities for non-union contractors. And that’s the name of the game. That’s how we build market share, and that’s how we build power on the jobsite and at the negotiating table.
Recently, the Pacific Northwest ADC signed LDC Inc., a non-union contractor in Southern Oregon, which as a result added 20 members to the BAC family (page 6). Through the top-down organizing campaign, our Local built up the trust necessary over a course of six months to add the contractor to our team. That’s great news, and I know that there are more stories like this across North America.
Now, this is only a start. We need to keep our forward momentum going. If we brought in 80 to 100 contractors in 2018, then we need to do at least as well in 2019. It's your focus and commitment to growing our Union that gets the job done. Let’s keep up the good work, keep organizing, and show the industry that BAC is here to stay.