Speak and Stand Up for the Working People
In the last edition of the BAC Journal, I urged you all to submit comments on the Administration’s Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) proposal. I want to thank all of you who took the time to weigh in on this critically important issue.
The North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) stepped up to the plate and led an effort to make sure the Administration knew that construction workers were concerned about how the IRAP proposal would affect all tradespeople. Thanks to this effort, nearly 325,000 comments were submitted on the proposed rule. About 4,000 of those were from BAC members.
Rank and file construction workers and signatory contractors made sure that the Administration heard their concerns about IRAPs and their support for a permanent exemption for the construction industry. Now we will have to wait and see how the Administration reacts to these comments, when they draft the final rule. Regardless of how the rule turns out, it is important that we made our voices heard and stood up for integrity and quality in union apprenticeship programs.
It is always important to stand up for what we believe in and what is best for union construction workers. Recently we surveyed our members on the importance of supporting political candidates that share our values. By overwhelming margins, our members said we should support candidates that support our positions on priority issues.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted in 2017. The law provided billions in tax cuts to corporations and billionaires, but it took away the right of union workers to deduct their union dues and traveling expenses. Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) has introduced the Tax Fairness for Workers Act to restore the right to deduct union dues. When polled, 94% of BAC members urged us to support candidates who support restoring this deduction for union workers.
So-called Right-to-Work laws allow free loaders to get all the benefits of belonging to a union, without paying their fair share of the cost of representation and collective bargaining. When asked, 83% of BAC members told us that we should support candidates that oppose Right-to-Work laws.
The Davis-Bacon Act was enacted by Congress on March 3, 1931, to ensure local workers receive a fair wage and to provide local contractors (union and non-union) a fair opportunity to compete for federal government contracts. Under the provisions of the Act, contractors or their subcontractors are to pay workers employed directly upon the site of the work no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits paid on similar projects. Many states have similar laws protecting prevailing wages on state projects. The vast majority of our members (90%) told us to support candidates that support Davis-Bacon and other prevailing wage laws.
For decades, anti-worker forces like the Koch brothers have been attacking unions and pushing for laws that weaken the rights of workers. They have had far too much success. It is time for us to rise up and fight for working class Americans. Fighting for our priorities listed above and legislation like The PRO Act (page 20) is a good start. This legislation will help even the playing field for workers and help rebuild the middle class.
These issues matter to us as well as to all the working people. The economy is only as strong and healthy as its workers are empowered. Brothers and sisters, we must recognize and utilize the power that we have to speak and stand up for ourselves. And with support from each one of you, we can do it.