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Carpenters in Lafayette are helping change lives

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  • 15 May 2017

Sunday, May 14th 2017, 6:50 pm EDT by Kiyerra Lake

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Lafayette carpenters are offering free services to help people in the community. Those services were life-changing for one Lafayette family.

Angela McMeans has been bound to her wheelchair for seven years.

"I have a hard time getting in and out the house," she said. "I mean, I had to wait until my husband gets off work to do anything."

Her husband, Steve McMeans, said it would take around 30 minutes to get her out of the house, down the stairs and in the car.

He said, "It was a chore of having to pick her up, carry her and then have to come back and get the scooter."

But now, that time has been cut down. It's all thanks to Carpenters Local 215. They built a ramp outside the home.

Union Worker Don Brightwell said, "When we help someone like that and they show their gratitude, as they did with all the hugs and the tears and everything, it's wonderful."

Brightwell and his team take on community service projects for free.

He said, "If for some reason we aren't able to do it, we can contact, ya know, get you to the right people to be able to do that."

The crew wants to help people who may not be able to pay for their construction projects.

Steve McMeans said, "We never would have been able to afford it."

Brightwell said, "They go for months and sometimes years struggling and we're here to help -- all you have to do is ask."

After years of depending on her husband for help, Angela gained back her independence.

She said, "I can do about anything. If I want to look at my flowers, I can look at my flowers."

"It's just been a real blessing no matter how you look at it," Steve McMeans said.


The House just passed a bill that affects overtime pay

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  • 03 May 2017

  @juliakhorowitzMay 2, 2017: 10:42 PM ET

"Do you get paid for overtime work? The House of Representatives just passed a bill you may want to know about.

The measure, backed by Republicans, would let employers give workers paid time off instead of time-and-a-half pay the next time they put in extra hours. The vote tally was largely along party lines, with no Democrats voting in favor of the bill. Six Republicans also voted against it.


G.O.P. leadership has touted the legislation, called the Working Families Flexibility Act, as an attempt to codify flexibility for employees.

"I don't think there's anything more powerful than giving them more control over their time so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families," Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington said Tuesday morning in a press conference held by Republican leaders in the House."

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National Poll: Most Voters Support Prevailing Wage on Public Infrastructure Projects

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  • 02 May 2017

  APR 26, 2017
“While voters may have disagreed on many issues this past November, they agree that prevailing wage laws should be preserved by a wide margin,” said pollster Brian Stryker. “Only 21% of voters want to eliminate prevailing wage laws—even after hearing a commonly referenced argument for doing so. And support for prevailing wage extends to large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Trump voters.”

Greenwood Open House Competition Winners

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  • 13 April 2017

Congratuations to our 2017 Greenwood/Indianapolis winners! L-R Director of Education Todd Pancake; General Carpentry: Craig Whitaker, Interior Systems: Arie Perez, Millwright: Josiah Wooden.



Gary Wetzel: Repealing Wisconsin's prevailing wage law would hurt veterans

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  • 23 February 2017

    SOUTH MILWAUKEE — I am a proud military veteran, Medal of Honor recipient, American Legion member and retired operating engineer. Though retired, I am an active advocate for veterans, their medical care, job opportunities and family sustaining wages.

    Specifically, I am concerned about a repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law and the negative impact it would have on veterans.

    Wisconsin legislators are threatening a rollback of the prevailing wage law that would mean a significant cut in wages for anyone — union or non-union — working in construction. The Wisconsin American Legion understands the seriousness of the situation and recently passed a resolution calling for veterans to receive employment preference for projects that receive state, county and municipal grants and contracts. It also calls for wages to be paid at a family-sustaining level (as set by federal guidelines mirroring our state prevailing wage law) to prevent the financial exploitation of veterans.

    When I came back from the Vietnam War, I was one shot-up man. Almost exactly 49 years ago, our helicopter was shot down near Ap Dong An, and I lost one of my arms. My crew members were either dead or soon-to-be dead, because the helicopter was on fire and the enemy had us pinned down. I grabbed the ’copter’s machine gun and returned fire with my one good arm. I survived that day with a few others and was awarded the nation’s highest award for valor by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

    When I came back, a career in the operating engineers offered me training, a community and a good living. Transitioning to civilian life was hard, but having a job to support a family helped make that transition easier. I operated heavy machinery with one arm for 40 years.

    In Wisconsin, veterans make up 8.3 percent of the construction workforce, which is significantly higher than the percentage of veterans in the general workforce. Employment in the construction industry is projected to grow by over 14,000 jobs between now and 2022. In other words, Wisconsin has a real opportunity to put veterans to work in an industry they already gravitate toward.

    Opponents of prevailing wage policies argue that repeal saves money. They claim a low-skilled, undertrained construction worker making rock-bottom wages will produce the same product as a higher-skilled, professionally trained craftsman. I can tell you from experience that is simply not true.

    What low-road contractors save in labor costs never materializes as savings for taxpayers. That’s because taxpayers end up footing the bill for reduced worksite efficiency, higher injury rates, and the prospect of needing to go back and fix work that wasn’t done right the first time by a contractor who by then is long gone, resulting in higher material and energy costs.

    This is not a union versus non-union issue. All workers in the construction industry benefit from prevailing wage laws. Prevailing wage laws simply ensure workers building our vital infrastructure receive a fair wage. If you cut construction worker wages by repealing prevailing wage laws — which everyone agrees will happen if prevailing wage laws are eliminated — veterans will be harder hit because veterans are more likely to work in the construction industry.

    We are veterans who want our voices heard and have a deep desire to continue proudly serving this great state and country by building safer roads, schools and communities for our families. Let us send a loud message to our legislative leaders — protect job opportunities and wages for our veterans.

    Wetzel, of South Milwaukee, is a member of Legion Post 434 in Oak Creek.

Ex Vice President of ABC Government Affairs to be US DOL Cheif

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  • 13 February 2017

by Justin Elliott

ProPublica, Feb. 8, 2017, 11:42 a.m.

The president has cultivated a relationship with the building trades unions. But early hires at the Department of Labor are opponents of wage standards for construction contracts.

Last month, President Donald Trump hosted the chiefs of several building trades unions at the White House in a meeting notable for how friendly it was given that they had endorsed Hillary Clinton in the campaign.

In a particularly glowing statement after the meeting, Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said Trump “has shown that he respects laborers who build our great nation, and that they will be abandoned no more.” That was in response to the administration’s effort to restart two controversial pipeline projects.


But the recent hiring at the Department of Labor of Geoffrey Burr, the former chief lobbyist of the construction industry’s trade group, has worker advocates alarmed.

It also highlights the dilemma of the building trades unions, the segment of organized labor that has been most friendly to Trump: They largely support his agenda on infrastructure and trade even as he is assembling a Department of Labor team that is hostile to unions and cherished wage standards on government contracts.

“What does it mean that we are putting people in charge of the Department of Labor, which is meant to be the strongest advocate for workers within the administration, who built their careers around advocating dismantling protections for workers?” asked Karla Walter, director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Burr, now a member of the Trump beachhead team at the Department of Labor, spent seven years as the vice president for government affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors.

The group is a fierce opponent of the law that gives workers on government construction contracts the right to be paid in line with local prevailing wages — a rate determined by the Department of Labor. The idea of the Depression-era law, called the Davis-Bacon Act, is to protect workers from being undercut by lower-paid, less-skilled workers from other areas of the country.

Republicans and companies have argued the law inflates government spending and other costs. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, introduced a bill last month to repeal it. Unions champion the law on the grounds that it protects good jobs and incentivizes higher productivity.

Disclosure records show that in 2015 Burr and his colleagues lobbied the House on a bill to repeal Davis-Bacon as well as on an amendment to “prohibit use of funds to implement, administer, or enforce the prevailing wage requirements under what is commonly known as the Davis-Bacon Act.”

Burr and his colleagues also lobbied the Department of Labor itself on Davis-Bacon-related surveys that set prevailing wage levels for jobs in different regions of the country.

As a member of the Trump beachhead team, Burr is now engaged on Davis-Bacon matters at the department, according to a staffer familiar with his work.

A Department of Labor spokeswoman declined to elaborate on Burr’s role and the future of Davis-Bacon. “It would be premature to speculate any policy decisions till the secretary is confirmed,” Jillian Rogers said.

(There is still no hearing date for Trump’s nominee to run the department, Andrew Puzder, who recently revealed he hired an undocumented household employee. Burr is in line to be Puzder’s chief of staff, Politico reported Tuesday.)

Another member of the Department of Labor beachhead team, Nathan Mehrens, has publicly blasted Davis-Bacon. Mehrens previously was president of the group Americans for Limited Government.

Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute, who has testified in support of the law before Congress, says Burr’s hiring is unsettling because the Department of Labor has some discretion in the setting of prevailing wages.

“They have latitude about what they survey and how often they survey,” Eisenbrey said. “It wouldn’t take a genius to identify areas and work hard to get nonunion employers to answer the survey, and that could lower the prevailing wage.”

The Department of Labor is also tasked with enforcement: Contractors that violate the law can be barred from getting future contracts. Bloomberg BNA reported in December that some management-side lawyers are already expecting the Trump Labor Department to ease up on enforcement.

The unions who met the president last month do not seem eager to pick a public fight with the Trump administration. Spokespeople for North America’s Building Trades Unions and the United Association of Plumbers and Fitters declined to comment on Burr’s hiring at the department. The Laborers’ International Union of North America and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters did not respond to requests for comment.

It’s not clear where the president himself stands on Davis-Bacon. One union leader told The New York Times after the meeting last month that the issue had been raised with Trump, but that the president had avoided taking a position.

Construction contractors must register in Akron

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  • 06 February 2017

By Megan Becka, special to 
on February 01, 2017 at 1:53 PM

AKRON, Ohio - Starting today, the city of Akron is requiring all construction contractors to register with the city before performing any work that requires a permit from the city, state or county.

"The purpose of the Contractor Registration Program is to ensure that all contractors doing work in Akron are properly licensed and insured are that they are withholding and paying their fair share of taxes," said Mayor Dan Horrigan, in a release. "Homeowners who wish to perform work on their own property will not be affected by this registration requirement."

Registration forms are available at the City of Akron Plans and Permits Center and online at The initial registration fee is $100. All registrations will expire June 30 each year, however, registrations obtained between Feb. 1 and June 30, 2017 will not expire until June 30, 2018.  


To register, contact the City of Akron Plans and Permits Center at 330-375-2010 or Plans&     

Contractors must have an income tax registration number to register. An income tax registration number can be obtained by contacting the City of Akron Income Tax Division at 330-375-2037 or

Any contractor who fails to register or obtain required permits may be subjected to civil and/or criminal penalties.

For more information about the Contractor Registration Program, contact the City of Akron Plans and Permits Center at 330-375-2010 or Plans&

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Construction Industry Offers Women Opportunities For Success

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  • 01 February 2017

January 23, 2017

It’s no secret that construction is a male-dominated industry. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 9.9 million workers in the construction field but only 9.3 percent were women. 

There is plenty of room for more women to join the industry—at all levels—and it’s encouraging to see women climbing to new heights in important roles. For example, USG Corp., an industry-leading manufacturer of innovative building products and solutions, recently named its first female CEO, Jennifer Scanlon. She is excited to join other female leaders in the building space, like Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, Diane Hendricks of ABC Supply, and Mary Rhinehart of Johns Manville.

The opportunities for women in construction are endless. Below are the stories of a few women who have succeeded in the industry; they fought stereotypes and broke down barriers to get to where they are today. They are an inspiring demonstration that women are fully capable of excelling in the construction industry, and point to a future of increased diversity in the workforce. 

Debbie Hauanio

Ceiling Installation, Gibson Lewis, Indianapolis

Debbie Hauanio is a union carpenter who specializes in ceiling installation for Gibson Lewis in Indianapolis, Ind. She credits her success in the industry to working hard and enjoying a challenge.

As a lead ceiling installer with 23 years of experience, Hauanio runs an acoustical ceiling crew of six to eight installers. Her responsibilities run the gamut from organizing the teams and turning in weekly reports, to ensuring materials arrive on schedule and overseeing their installation.

Hauanio likes the varied nature of her job. “I kind of fell into the industry but I liked it. I did a four year apprenticeship and learned that it’s hard work, but can also be a lot of fun,” says Hauanio. “I don’t think I’d like being in an office every day. I like the sense of accomplishment when we finish a job and move on to the next.”

Hauanio is thankful for the opportunities she has had at Gibson Lewis. “I’ve been given many opportunities to prove myself and gained greater responsibility each time I’ve met those expectations.”

Q: What’s the greatest challenge for women in the construction industry?

A: I think many women don’t even have construction on their radar because of the physical demands of the job. They might be surprised if they tried! I had an interest in fixing things in my home. One thing led to another and here I am.

Q: What are the greatest changes you have seen during your years in the industry?

A: From my perspective as an installer, I haven’t seen a lot of changes. I haven’t seen a significant increase in women at the trade level. It takes a specific type of person to do what I do. It’s a lot of hard work.

Q: What advice can you give to women considering careers in this industry?

A: The best advice I have is to keep an open mind. If you’re interested, look into it. Talk to people in the industry. Don’t rule it out on principle. I probably work harder than most just because I’m a woman. The expectation that women can’t do the job as well as a man spurs me on. I often think, “Don’t tell me I can’t because I’m a girl! I’ll show you!”

Veiw the full article>>

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Johnson touts trade work

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  • 30 January 2017

Photo by Greg Eans, Tia Johnson talks about her experience as a welder at her home on Maple Street on Wednesday. She has an associates degree in welding from Owensboro Community & Technical College.Top of Form

Jan 23, 2017

Before Tia Johnson graduated from Apollo High School in 2001, she knew she was done with school.

"I got good grades, but I didn't want to go to college," she said.

After graduation, she moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and attended Tulsa Welding School.

Eventually, she moved back to Owensboro and worked in several factories. That didn't suit her, either.

"It wasn't enough for me," she said. She needed a challenge and more money.

"I was working third shift and not liking it," she said.

Her life changed more than two years ago when she happened on to a job fair at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Johnson stopped by Millwright Union 1076's booth.

"I didn't know what a millwright was," she said. "I don't think a lot of people know what they do."

She talked to a representative of the union. He called her shortly after and asked her to apply to the union's apprentice program.

As an apprentice, she has worked many millwright jobs that include the installation, dismantling, repair, reassembly and the moving of machinery in factories, power plants and construction sites.

"I wish I had known this when I graduated from Apollo," she said.

Johnson is more than two years into a three-year apprenticeship with her union.

"It's on-the-job training with pay," she said.

She will graduate from the program with an applied science degree from Ivy Tech in Indiana.

Johnson, 33, would like to get the message to high school graduates who are not interested in a four-year degree but want to further their education with a skill.

"This trade (millwright) is good for women," she said. "You have to keep up with the men, but that's only fair because we earn the same pay as the men.

"I learn something every day," Johnson said.

"While in apprenticeship, we don't work alone," she said. "We work with at least one journeyman."

A person will do well as a millwright if he or she respectful, disciplined and willing to work, she said.

The millwright's creed states: "The person who works with his hands is a laborer; the person who works with his hands and his head is an artisan; the person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is a union millwright."

She said everyone she's worked with is respectful and helpful.


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Construction Wage Rollback Bill Lands in Senate

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  • 26 January 2017

By Tyrone Richardson
January 25, 2017

Construction businesses would be allowed to trim wages on federally funded infrastructure projects under a bill Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced Jan. 24, he said during a Senate hearing.

The legislation, the Transportation Investment Recalibration to Equality (TIRE) Act, would suspend the Davis-Bacon Act’s prevailing wage requirements for transportation and other infrastructure projects. The 86-year-old law requires construction businesses to pay their employees a prevailing wage set by the Labor Department for work on public infrastructure contracts. The union-level wages are as much as 22 percent above market rates, according to studies.

“The bottom line is, every time Davis-Bacon applies to a federal project, less money is going to construction and more money is going to meet onerous wage requirements,” Flake said on the Senate floor.

This legislation marks the latest Republican attempt to limit or repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. It will need the backing of at least some Democrats to get the 60 votes to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. The bill didn’t have any co-sponsors as of late afternoon Jan. 24. It stands to get some resistance from labor unions and some Democrats who have lauded the law as a means to offer strong wages for the industry.

Democrats Willing to Agree?

That includes Democrats such as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 19 that he wouldn’t support “efforts to chip away at worker protections and wages.”

Brown’s comments could be echoed by many other Democrats since the legislation is a “stand-alone measure,” Paul DeCamp, an administrator of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division under President George W. Bush, told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 24.

“Its only effect would be to remove the prevailing wage requirement from future federal highway projects, without any countervailing provisions to address Democrats’ policy preferences,” he said. “But if this bill gets packaged with other measures, such as a commitment to a certain level of infrastructure funding, then perhaps the chances of passage improve.”

Republican Attempts to Alter Davis-Bacon Act

There have been numerous attempts to undo the measure throughout the years. One of the most recent came in July 2015, when Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Davis-Bacon Repeal Act, which was co-sponsored by eight other Republicans. The proposed legislation never moved out of committee.

Flake’s office released a written statement Jan. 24 arguing the benefits of suspending the prevailing wage requirements. It said research by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University found that Davis-Bacon wage mandates “drove up labor costs by more than $2 billion dollars in 2016 alone. That figure amounts to nearly 10 percent of all federal construction spending for 2016.”

A 2008 study by the institute concluded that wages mandated by the Davis-Bacon Act were about 22 percent above market wages.

Flake told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 17 that he is confident he can rally support for the bill from both sides of the aisle. The measure is designed to curry favor with President Donald Trump, who has made infrastructure spending a key priority, he said.

Flake reiterated the importance of shrinking expenses during his speech Jan. 24.

“Fixing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure is a top priority for many in Congress, and the new administration has touted a large infrastructure package as one of its major agenda items,” he said. “However, despite the bipartisan consensus on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue for infrastructure investment, visions for the road ahead diverge.”

Officials with the Trump administration weren’t immediately available for comment Jan. 24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in Washington

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino; Terence Hyland at; Christopher Opfer

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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