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Trump announces $200M apprenticeship initiative

  • admin
  • 16 June 2017

Kim Slowey@kimslowey

June 16, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that will increase apprenticeship funding to $200 million and give the private sector more influence in designing apprenticeship programs, with the unofficial goal of creating 5 million apprenticeships in the next five years, according to the Associated Press. 

  • Last year, according to the Department of Labor, apprenticeships totaled a little more than 500,000, with roughly 50% of those in the construction industry.

  • The funding for Trump's plan would come from existing DOL job training funds, but critics point out that Trump's proposed 2018 budget would cut the DOL's training and employment services by 21%, according to Time, as well as other workforce programs. The budget also cuts $1 million in women's training programs, but the administration said that will be made up in this broader apprenticeship initiative.

Dive Insight:  

The Associated Builders and Contractors lauded the announcement Thursday and said the measures outlined in the executive order would help the construction industry with skills training and help eliminate a 500,000-worker shortage.   

One controversial aspect of the executive order is the fact that Trump does not require apprenticeship programs to be registered with the DOL, which currently sets program parameters and certifies them to make sure they're in compliance and provide quality training and education. Oversight of unregistered programs, critics say, could result in some sham offerings.

Administration officials said there are unique training requirements for each industry, and the private sector could be better positioned than the DOL to develop industry-specific apprenticeship programs.

If the program is successful in creating more skilled workers, it would certainly come as a welcome relief to the construction industry. According to an Associated General Contractors of America survey, 73% of companies anticipate hiring new workers this year, but 73% also said they anticipate difficulty in doing so.

Earlier this month, when the president revealed more details about his $1 trillion infrastructure plan, he said he wanted to create at least 1 million new apprenticeship positions in the next two years. This, as well as the order, was most likely in response to industry concerns about how such an ambitious program would further stress the limited skilled-labor pool. 

Contractor at University of Tennessee Project to Pay Over $300K for Hiding Payroll

  • admin
  • 07 June 2017

Mid-South Regional Council of Carpenters:

A contractor working on the University of Tennessee’s Strong Hall construction project will pay more than $300,000 in fines for labor violations. 

JAC Jack Construction LLC, a Knoxville-based labor provider, has agreed to pay a penalty of $336,987 assessed by the Tennessee Department of Labor Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

The penalty is based on over a year’s worth of work at the University, where labor was provided for Proffitt & Sons, Inc.

In the settlement agreement, JAC Jack “understated or concealed …[its]…payroll, number of employees and/or appropriate classification of employees in an effort to avoid payment of proper workers’ compensation insurance premiums.”

Read the settlement agreement, below.

The Mid-South Carpenters Regional Council consistently tries to prevent this type of payroll fraud by calling attention to the problem. Here’s a background article about the effort surrounding JAC Jack and the UT project, and why it’s so dangerous to a community.

“Those workers were exploited, immigrant labor,” said Mike Boner, executive secretary-treasurer of the Regional Council.

Many contractors in Tennessee, such as Proffitt & Sons, get most of their workers from labor brokers.

“These labor providers aren’t name-brand companies,” said Boner. “They’re usually a guy with a cell phone that can round up dozens or even hundreds of workers. Then the labor brokers pay the workers off the books. We call that ‘payroll fraud.’”

The use of labor brokers is a serious problem in the construction industry because workers lose important workplace protections like workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance and overtime. In addition, employment taxes for Social Security and Medicare are not paid.  That enables the cheating contractor to underbid law-abiding businesses by up to 30 percent.

“All of this cheating hurts every one of us by driving down our wages and driving up our taxes and insurance costs,” said Boner. “The fine from the BWC is large and should be a warning to all of the other companies out there who use the same practices.”

File: JAC Jack Settlement TNBWC 3-10-17.pdf

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IKORCC Stands Against Wage Discrimination

  • admin
  • 24 May 2017

Posted: May 24, 2017 11:03 AM EDT
Updated: May 24, 2017 3:37 PM EDT

By Chris Otts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- About 100 construction workers helping to build the Omni Hotel downtown walked off the job early Wednesday.

The workers, almost all of whom are Latino immigrants, said they recently discovered they're being paid less than others on the project. They hang and finish drywall and install metal studs, they said.

"We are the only one underpaid on this job," said Marco Cruz, who described himself as a safety worker. "Everyone else is making like $40-$45 an hour and we're doing like $20 an hour. So we feel like we were discriminated by our gender, our race, and that's what we're demanding, just fair salaries."

David Suetholz, a labor attorney helping the workers, said it's their right under federal law to come together and demand a conversation with their employer about their wages. 

"They are the only workers -- the only workers -- on this project that are being paid a residential rate," Suetholz said. "Every other classification of workers on this project are being paid commercial rates, and it's my sneaking suspicion it's because they're immigrants."

A spokeswoman for the Omni project did not immediately return a call. Neither did a spokeswoman for Brasfield & Gorrie, the general contractor.

Antonio Ramos, a business representative with the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters Local 175, said the workers are employed by subcontractors called PCC and PDC, which WDRB could not immediately verify.

The workers are not organized by the carpenters union, but Ramos said the union supports them.

Suetholz said he assumes the workers have legal status in the United States because employers are required to verify that.

"As an advocate for working people, it’s none of my concern because I want these people to be treated the same way everyone else on this project should be treated," he said.

About half the cost of the $289 million hotel and apartment building is being picked up by city and state taxpayers through a special taxing district.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has said the construction workers on the project would be paid the same "prevailing wages" the state has set for publicly funded construction projects.

The Republican-led state legislature repealed the prevailing wage requirements in January, but the new law applies only to projects that were not already in the works. 

Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved

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Rossford Open House Competition Winners

  • admin
  • 18 May 2017

Congratuations to our 2017 Rossford, Ohio winners! 


View more photos from the event!

Richfield Open House Competition Winners

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  • 18 May 2017

Congratuations to our 2017 Richfield, Ohio winners!


Check out more photos from the event!

Columbus Open House Competition Winners

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  • 18 May 2017

Congratuations to our 2017 Columbus, Ohio winners!


View more photos from the event!

Monroe Open House Competition Winners

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  • 18 May 2017

Congratuations to our 2017 Monroe, Ohio! 

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Hobart Open House Competition Winners

  • admin
  • 18 May 2017

Congratuations to our 2017 Hobart, Indiana winners! General Carpentry - Edward Livergood, Local 1485; Interior systems - Juan Miranda, Local 1485Millwright - Matthew Michels Local 1076.

Warsaw Open House Competition Winners

  • admin
  • 18 May 2017

Congratuations to our 2016 Warsaw, Indiana winners! General Carpentry - Kenny Allison, Local 615; Interior systems - Jose Mendez-Flores, Local 232; and Millwright - Kyle Van Ness Jr., Local 1076

Good News — May 15: Carpenters volunteer to build playground for elementary school

  • admin
  • 17 May 2017

Published: May 14, 2017 - 10:06 PM

Members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 285 Members Action Committee recently donated their time and skills to build a playground for the elementary branch of Summit Academy on Leland Avenue in Akron.

Click here to read the full article.